English Professor gives first faculty lecture

Sara Levering

English Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner gave the first fall faculty lecture on how Shakespeare can speak to our society in today’s world, entitled “Shakespeare’s Bad Romance.” This should sound familiar from Lady Gaga’s song Bad Romance. Pollack-Pelzner highlighted gendered politics in his lecture on Wednesday evening.

His lecture entitled, “Shakespeare’s Bad Bromance,” focused on the idea of male intimacy in many of Shakespeare’s plays. Pollack-Pelzner focused on Much Ado About Nothing, which he interpreted a play about men returning from wartime.

In Much Ado About Nothing, he highlighted the fact that in the play, there is a gender problem and a genre problem. When one thinks about romantic comedy, it gets a sour reaction from most people. Pollack-Pelzner joked that in romantic comedy, when a woman says she does not want to fall in love, marriage is surely in her future. The genre is entirely driven by marriage.

Pollack-Pelzner pointed the audience to the Much Ado About Nothing film starring Keanu Reeves and did his best impression, which got the entire audience laughing.

When discussing the bromance notion to heterosexuality, he suggested that the play tries to balance the “one foot in the sea and one foot on the shore.” He also acknowledged that in other Shakespeare plays, soldiers engage in combat and this play is no different. Pollack-Pelzner challenged the audience to think of a Shakespeare play in which two female characters do not discuss a man in an exchange. Needless to say, the audience thought on that for the remainder of the lecture and came up with none.

Following the lecture, when asked how the faculty lecture went, “It was such a pleasure to talk about Shakespeare with such an engaged group,” said Pollack-Pelzner. When asked to discuss how his research started on the bromance notion, Pollack-Pelzner replied, “learning about the PLACE theme and the legacies of war” is what ultimately gave him the idea of Shakespeare’s Bad Bromance.

Ronni Lacroute, a sponsor for theater companies in the Portland area and is highly involved in Shakespeare was at the lecture as well. When asked what she thought about the lecture, “Brilliant, exciting, accessible for anyone, so rich with ideas, just give me more” was her excited response, Lacroute said.