When we hear the term ‘The Bard’ our minds immediately spring to the name William Shakespeare. More specifically, Shakespeare is known as ‘The Bard of Avon’. This is because he seems to have been given the title in recognition of his stature as ‘great poet’ and the unofficial national poet of England.
“After God, Shakespeare has created the most.” – Alexandre Dumas, 1859
Shakespeare is ubiquitous today… but was it ever thus? How, when, and why did he become apotheosized within the global canon of literature? How did his memory and legacy become venerated, in some cases almost to the level of idolatry? This talk explores many of the questions that have swirled around the immensely popular, often sensational, and occasionally vulgar phenomenon of “Bardolatry”—a term cynically coined by the playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw in the hope of knocking Shakespeare off the proverbial pedestal of the English literary canon.
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About the Author:
Dr. Earle Havens is Director of the Virginia Fox Stern Center for the History of the Book in the Renaissance, and Nancy H. Hall Curator of Rare Books & Manuscripts, at Johns Hopkins University. His numerous publications explore the material culture of books and scribal activity during the early modern period, including illicit printing and book smuggling, literary forgery, the history of libraries, and the role of women in print culture.
Dr. Havens earned an interdisciplinary joint-PhD in Renaissance Studies and History from Yale University with a dissertation exploring the underground print culture of the Counter-Reformation during the second half of the sixteenth century, in England and on the European continent. His academic teaching and published scholarship focus on the history of the book and material texts in early modern Europe, ca. 1400-1750.
He has authored, co-authored, and edited twelve scholarly books and exhibition catalogues, and several dozen articles and book chapters exploring the material culture of books and scribal activity during the early modern period, including illicit printing and book smuggling, literary forgery, the history of libraries, and the role of women in print culture.
In addition he has served as Curator and co-Curator of a dozen major rare book exhibitions in the US and Europe, and has lectured widely on the history of the book, most recently at the Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel, Durham University, the University of Trento, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and the University of Gothenburg. His scholarly research has been supported most recently by rare book research fellowships from the Houghton, Huntington, and Clark Libraries. In 2019, he was a Member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and in 2021 was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.