HIGH POINT, N.C., May 4, 2009 – Dr. Jim Casey, assistant professor of English at High Point University, presented a paper on early modern monstrosity in Shakespeare?s “Richard III” at the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America in Washington, D.C.
Casey was invited to participate as the expert respondent for the “Disabled Shakespeare” Seminar at the conference. His paper addresses the ahistorical nature of King Richard’s hunchback, noting that the disability was invented by the Tudors to damage Richard’s legitimacy. Deformed children were seen as “monsters” in the early modern period, warnings from the gods, and this moral dimension informs Shakespeare’s portrayal of the crookbacked king.
Casey’s essay discusses the removal of Richard’s hump in recent, politically correct adaptations of “Richard III” and argues that these versions remove Richard’s culpability and place the blame for his actions outside his body. This obfuscates the reading of Shakespeare’s original work, suggesting that Richard is not the devil – rather his hunchback is.
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