Literary News: Events & Articles

Literary NewsFall 2017

ONSCREEN AND ONSTAGE
Simpatico at Princeton University
Sept. 8-Oct. 15; Princeton, NJ: McCarter Theatre Center collaborates with Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre on a production of the late (died July 27, 2017) Sam Shepherd’s Simpatico. A past horseracing scam by one-time buddies leads to present-day blackmail and a love triangle. For more details, click here.

Shakespeare’s Taming in 1919
Sept. 16- Nov. 12; Chicago, IL: Chicago Shakespeare stages a play about a performance of The Taming of the Shrew by a women's club in 1919, during  the struggle for women’s  suffrage. Members of the club rehearse Shakespeare's play, engage in self-discovery because of it, and present their own perspective on the romance at the center. Click for details.

Three Sisters at University of Tennessee
Sept. 27-Oct. 15; Knoxville, TN:  University of Tennessee, Knoxville, stages Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Three middle-class sisters living in rural Russia experience hope and despair after soldiers from the Imperial Army arrive and their brother marries the manipulative, self-absorbed Natasha. The production adds lines from Chekhov’s manuscript before the censors got to it. For tickets, click here.


Rhinoceros at University of Notre Dame
Sept. 28-Oct. 8; Notre Dame, IN: ND Theatre performs Eugène Ionesco’s post WWII drama about a small French town, all of whose residents turn into rhinoceroses—except for a solitary man named Bérenger. For more details, click here.

Harvard University’s New Find: The U.S. Declaration of Independence
With the smash hit Hamilton, literature sets us straight about the tremendous contribution of one of America’s founding fathers. But how many of us have heard of James Wilson? An ally of Hamilton, Wilson was part of a decades-long struggle to ingrain into the foundation of America the notion of a single nation. He was also one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, a document currently on the tips of manuscript-lovers' tongues because of a startling find by Harvard researchers Emily Sneff and Danielle Allen: Earlier this year, in a small records office in Sussex, England, they stumbled on a second parchment manuscript of the Declaration. On July 7, they presented this Sussex Declaration at the National Archives in Washington DC, and today they continue to focus on the manuscript’s mysteries: how and why it differs from the first parchment manuscript (the so-called Matlack Declaration, which sits in the National Archives); who commissioned this second manuscript; and how it wound up in faraway Sussex. The first mystery is partly resolved by sight. See the difference in arrangement of signatures on the two manuscripts below. On most documents of the day, the protocol was for members of a state delegation to sign as a unit, their signatures grouped and often (though not always) labeled by state. The Sussex Declaration instead scrambles the signatures—deliberately, suggests Professor Allen.  “This” scrambling, she explains, “is really a symbolic way of saying we are all one people, or ‘one community,’ to quote James Wilson,” the most likely person to have commissioned this second manuscript—sometime in the 1780s. Its winding up in Sussex probably has to do with the radical Third Duke of Richmond (Charles Lennox), a temporary supporter of American independence: We British should accept it, he argued, later reneging on this pro-American stance, probably for his own political sake, given his career and a groundswell of anti-American anger around him. The scrambling of signatures, adds Professor Allen, figures into early debate, in support of the side that argued America was founded by individual citizens, each created equal, not by a confederation of states. It was a consequential argument: Should the new nation be based on the authority of the people or on the authority of the states?

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