We look forward to welcoming you to the virtual edition of the ESRA 2021!


“The art itself is nature”:  Shakespeare’s Nature | Art | Politics

ESRA 2021 asks Shakespeare scholars across disciplines to reflect on issues involving nature and art and explore their impact on politics, the political as well as the public and private spheres. It seeks to examine the entanglement of human, animal, natural elements and small materialities and the questions raised by the conjunction of nature, art and politics not only in Shakespeare’s era of globalized trade, colonialism and rising exploitation of nature but also in the context of the present debates and ethical urgency provoked by the unevenness and inevitability of globalization.

Shakespeare, who is for Randall Martin “our eco-contemporary”, has emphasized both the resistance of nature to human efforts to dominate it and the need for the preservation of its diversity. In Shakespeare’s works, nature represents the unevenly shared world, which becomes the stage for the human condition and exposes the alienation, dispossession, quest of truth, as well as the hubris of the human subject. It interrupts the oppositions between public and private, metropolis and periphery, European Man and Other to signify connections and relations that destabilize him as the sovereign being.

This conception of nature as process rather than universe, cosmos rather than unified globe, is also a way of understanding our own present, a time defined by environmental and socio-economic crises, a historical moment in which many of our certainties have collapsed. As Bruno Latour argues in Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (2018), “learning new ways to inhabit the Earth” is the biggest challenge of the Anthropocene, with every human activity affecting the natural order and with nature, in turn, shaping human affairs.

Although questions of nature and art in Shakespeare are often examined through the theoretical lens of the posthuman, they are also transhistorical and transcultural, continuing to engage artists and thinkers from the classical period to our own. Therefore, the topic also addresses the location of the conference, Athens, a place that conjures Aristotle’s notions of physis | technē | politikē, and more particularly the contrast between physis and technē (art, craft or skill). Technē partially imitates and partially completes nature, often conflicting with the craft and skill of politikē. The topic also invokes his concept of humans as “political animals”, who are, however, as Aristotle adds, by nature more savage than animals.

In 2021 Greece is also celebrating the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution, a historical moment that may offer us opportunities for discovering new connections between past and present and critically examining landmarks and origin narratives that often bypass the minor histories that make up humanity at large. In Shakespeare’s age, Greece is the past that continues to fluctuate in the present: power, conflict, war, and rebellion are mirrored in the classical values with which ancient Greece is associated. What remains is the spirit of this past that signifies not the pure origin but the tragic condition of the human and the inability to recognize and acknowledge our limitedness before the questions of ethics, justice and truth.


Conference convenors

Prof. Efterpi Mitsi  (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Dr. Xenia Georgopoulou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Advisory Committee

Prof. Rui Carvalho Homem (University of Porto)

Prof. Maria Del Sapio Garbero (Roma Tre University)

Dr. Mina Karavanta (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

Theme: Overlay by Kaira