English professor addresses gender politics, ‘bromance’ in Shakespeare

Sara Levering, Sports editor

English Professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner gave the first fall faculty lecture on how Shakespeare can speak to our society in today’s world, highlighting gendered politics in his lecture on Sept. 14.

Pollack-Pelzner’s lecture titled, “Shakespeare’s Bad Bromance,” a reference to Lady Gaga’s hit song, “Bad Romance,” focused on the idea of male intimacy in many of Shakespeare’s plays. He focused on Shakespeare’s comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing,” which he interpreted as 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 adaptation starring Keanu Reeves and did his best impression of the actor, which got the entire audience roaring.

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” idea. 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.

“It was such a pleasure to talk about Shakespeare with such an engaged group,” reflected Pollack-Pelzner after the conclusion of his lecture. 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 Linfield board of trustees member and tremendous arts supporter for the college and a sponsor for theater companies in the Portland area was at the lecture as well. She said that the lecture was, “Brilliant, exciting, accessible for anyone, so rich with ideas, just give me more.”