Guest Lecture | Dr Edel Semple: Shakespeare’s ‘Badass Mothers’ on Screen

The Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures invites you to a lecture “Shakespeare’s ‘badass mothers’ on screen: Aging maternity in Taymor’s Tempest and Fiennes’ Coriolanus” by Dr Edel Semple (UCC), to be held on Tuesday, 3 May 2022, 14:15, in Room 104, main faculty building.

This talk examines the portrayal and significance of aging mothers in the films The Tempest (Julie Taymor, 2010) and Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes, 2012). In a regendering of Shakespeare’s famous magician, Taymor’s film stars Helen Mirren as the powerful sorceress Prospera, banished from her home for witchcraft and stranded on an island to survive by her wits. In Fiennes’ film, Vanessa Redgrave plays Volumnia as a privileged patrician and army veteran pulling political strings in a Balkan city in turmoil. I argue that Prospera and Volumnia are ‘badass mothers’ and that this character type can offer interventions in recent debates on women in power, working mothers, and female aging on film. As both of these Shakespearean materfamilias characters is played by a senior actress of the stage and screen, my talk will explore casting and celebrity in relation to the two films’ interrogations of contemporary perceptions of maternity and female aging.

Edel Semple is Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies at University College Cork, Ireland. She specialises in adaptations and appropriations of Shakespeare on screen, early modern drama, and gender studies. Edel is co-editor of Staged Normality in Shakespeare’s England (Palgrave, 2019), Staged Transgression in Shakespeare’s England (Palgrave, 2013), and of a special issue of Early Modern Literary Studies on European women in early modern drama (2017). Currently Edel is researching Shakespeare’s women on film and is co-editing a collection on contemporary Shakespearean biofiction. Edel is also the coordinator of the “Shakespeare in Ireland” scholarly blog, promoting and reporting on early modern events, research, and sites across the island of Ireland.

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