|Name Richard Wilson|
|Education York University|
|Occupation Early modern scholar and anniversary professor at kingston university|
Edited works Theatre and Religion: Lancastrian Shakespeare
Books Secret Shakespeare: Studies in, Shakespeare in French Theory: K, Free Will: Art and Power on, Will power
Similar People William Shakespeare, Harold Bloom, Levin Ludwig Schucking, Don Nardo, J Dover Wilson
Professor Richard Wilson (born 1950) is the Sir Peter Hall Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Kingston University, London.
- Education and employment
- Edited volumes
- Newspaper articles
- Main influences
- Books reviewed
Education and employment
Richard Wilson studied at York University (1970–5) with Philip Brockbank, C.A. Patrides and F.R. Leavis, who influenced his close reading in historical contexts. He wrote his PhD thesis under the supervision of Jacques Berthoud on Shakespeare and Renaissance perspective theory.
Taught at University of Lancaster 1978–2005:
Taught at Cardiff University 2005–2012
Taught at Kingston University 2012–
Visiting Fellowships and Professorships
Richard Wilson has organised a series of international conferences:
Since 1999 he has been a Trustee of Shakespeare North. He is Academic Advisor on its project to rebuild the Elizabethan playhouse at Prescot (Knowsley) near Liverpool.
He was an academic advisor for the BBC series In Search of Shakespeare (2001). He appears in the series, interviewed by Michael Wood.
Richard Wilson is based at the Rose Theatre, Kingston-upon-Thames, which was created by the director Sir Peter Hall to be a 'teaching theatre' where actors and academics came together. The theatre is modelled on the Elizabethan Rose playhouse on Bankside.
Richard Wilson's publications include Will Power, Secret Shakespeare, Shakespeare in French Theory, Free Will and Worldly Shakespeare. Influenced by continental philosophy, as well as Anglo-American criticism, he reads Shakespearean drama in terms of its agonistic conflict. It is his research into the conditions of this conflict that led him to his proposition, in Secret Shakespeare, that 'the bloody question' of loyalty during Europe's wars of religion was hardwired into Shakespeare's dramatic imagination, and that in play after play the same scenario is repeated, when some sovereign or seducer, like King Lear, demands to know who 'doth love us', and a resister such as Cordelia responds: 'I cannot heave / My heart into my mouth'. In this way, Shakespeare makes a drama out of 'being dumb' [Sonnet 83].
Wilson is known for his archival research on Shakespeare's Catholic background and possible Lancashire connections. But in Secret Shakespeare (2004) he argued that 'though Shakespeare was born into a Catholic world, he reacted against it' and 'resisted the resistance'. Like the painter Caravaggio, what Shakespeare performs, the book concluded, was not some hidden secret, but secrecy itself.
Shakespeare's 'theatre of shadows' stages 'the instability of the opposition between authorised and unauthorised violence' and 'the recognition of the reversibility of monsters and martyrs, terrorists and torturers, or artists and assassins', in this interpretation. Thus, in Shakespeare in French Theory (2006) Wilson explains that while for Anglo-Saxon culture Shakespeare is a man of the monarchy, in France he has always been the man of the mob.
Wilson's 2013 book Free Will: Art and Power on Shakespeare's Stage is a comprehensive rereading of the plays in terms of Shakespeare's patronage relations. It maintains that the dramatist found artistic freedom by adopting an 'abject position' towards authority, and by staging 'the power of weakness' in the 'investiture crisis' of the age of absolutism.
With Worldly Shakespeare: The Theatre of Our Good Will (2016) Wilson extends this agonistic approach to questions of globalisation, and proposes that Shakespeare created a drama without catharsis, in which the imperative to 'offend but with good will' prefigures the globalised communities of our own 'time of Facebook and fatwa, internet and intifada'. The Times Literary Supplement described this book as 'dazzling' in its range.
Associated since the 1980s with the British Cultural Materialist school of criticism, according to Will Power (1993) Wilson's work aims to combine 'high theory and low archives'. He was described by the critic A.D. Nuttall as 'Perhaps the most brilliant of the Shakespearean Historicists'.
Richard Wilson has published over a hundred chapters or articles in academic journals, and is on the editorial boards of the journals Shakespeare and Marlowe Studies