Shakespeare’s Trial

Shakespeare’s Trial

The authorship question has plagued Shakespeare studies since the c18th and, in a society that thrives on conspiracy theories, the problem of Shakespeare’s authorship doesn’t seem to be losing any steam. With recent movies, such as Anonymous (2011) and a new MA program in the UK dedicated to proving Shakespeare was a fraud, we face a whole new generation of skeptics and detractors. Inspired by these renewed debates, Dr. Jessica Riddell (English Department) set out not to persuade but rather to engage with these ideas. Armed with an intrepid team of legal researchers (her Elizabethan Shakespeare class), Dr. Riddell enlisted the help of faculty, alumni, and students to put Shakespeare on trial for fraud. If, after all the evidence is presented and arguments are weighed, the jury (the audience) still finds Shakespeare guilty, then at least they do so with all the facts before them.

Reference material

The Known Knowledge document was prepared by students in ENG223 Elizabethan Shakespeare. They were assigned one of ten topics relating to Shakespeare’s authorship and asked to write legal memos with facts, evidence, and arguments for guilt and innocence. The document forms the basis of information for the prosecution and defence teams to build their respective cases.

Read the document (PDF)


Event video – Complete Trial

Teaser video 1

Teaser video 2

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