OUTing the Past Festival: LGBT+ plus Bard – talks tomorrow at Birthplace


The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) will be taking part in this year’s OUTing the Past Festival — the international celebration of LGBT+ history that runs during LGBT+ History Month.

Shakespeare is one of the four ‘faces’ of this year’s festival, and SBT will be exploring the bisexual voices of his Sonnets and hear a performance of poetry by LGBT+ Poet Laureate Trudy Howson as part of a series of short talks on Wednesday (12th February) from 12.30pm to 6pm, at the Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. Booking is not necessary, and entrance is free.

Ever dazzling and intense, and resonating as deeply personal poems, Shakespeare’s Sonnets nevertheless seem trapped by long-held critical and narrative assumptions. How instead might we recognise the poems’ many-sided genders and sexualities? How might we set them free in our time and culture?

Dr Paul Edmondson, head of research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, will be joined by special guest Luke Turner, author of the bisexual memoir Out of the Woods, who will be reflecting on how we might reclaim the bisexual experience from the past, and how we write about it today. This talk takes place between 5pm-6pm.

Other talks include:

12.30-1pm, Queer eye for the museum: V&A curator Dan Vo will discuss how the existence of queer lives is evident across place, time and culture.

1pm-1.30pm, Byron and the Lion King: Cheryl Morgan looks at a play, ancient texts and archaeology to see how ideas of sexuality and gender change with time.

2pm-2.30pm, Bloomsbury’s Hidden Neighbours: A lesbian love triangle? Jane Trays queers the story of Caroline Spurgeon, a leading Shakespeare scholar of the 20th century, who was the first woman in the UK to become a Professor of English Literature.

2.45pm-3.15pm, Creating the queer archive. Jessica Heath discusses the relationship between archives and queer history, using the work undertaken as part of her placement for archive studies.

3.30pm-4.30pm, Trudy Howson reads her work, and talk about her poetic inspirations and what it means to her to be LGBT Poet Laureate.

Items from the SBT’s museum, library and archives that relate to LGBT+ history will be on display from 10am-3.30pm, and copies of a new source guide collating these items will be available.