The R&J Project: Women in Shakespeare

Submitted by Genevieve Bleidner '13 on April 20, 2010

On Thursday, February 11, 2010, Fairfield University presented an intellectual and engaging discussion on the roles of women in the works of Shakespeare. This was another installment in the series of events scheduled this spring as part of the Romeo and Juliet Project, a campus-wide look at the famous Shakespeare play and the reasons why it appeals long after it was written.

The event, which ran from 6 to 8:15 p.m. in the Library Multimedia room, began with an introduction by Elizabeth Haas, Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Women’s Studies. Other panelists and their topics included:

  • Dr. Richard Regan, Assistant Professor of English, who delved into the beauty of the language in the works of Shakespeare as well as the significance of Juliet through individual interpretation over the years.
  • Dr. Robert Epstein, Associate Professor of English, who presented a detailed focus on the less-than-pure meanings behind the words spoken by Juliet in Romeo and Juliet
  • Dr. Patricia Behre, Associate Professor of History, who spoke about the ideas about women of the time and their roles in society and Shakespeare’s work
  • Ms. Lynne Porter, Associate Professor of Theatre, whose topic included the effects of cross-gender casting, titled “Who’s Wearing the Pants”

Each presenter of the panel stood before the audience and presented a mix of PowerPoint slides, video clips, and photographic and written evidence supporting their individual topics. Each panel member had an astounding amount of information and ideas to share.

The event was not only entertaining, but also really made the audience think; when it came time for questions from audience members, many hands shot up to discuss further ideas and observations about women and their role in Shakespeare’s work, with discussion ranging from the significance of Juliet’s language to the life she might have lived during the time Shakespeare was alive. The audience left with many new ideas swirling around in their heads, and everyone was able to take away a new perspective on Shakespeare and his idea of how women should be portrayed.

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