‘Shakespeare and the Drama of Love’ to be Discussed at Lecture


     A Georgetown University professor, who asserts that love plays a major role in virtually all of William Shakespeare’s plays, will deliver the sixth annual J.J. Quinn, S.J., Memorial Lecture at The University of Scranton on Wednesday, April 7. The lecture, which is open to the public and free of charge, will be held in the Houlihan-McLean Center beginning at 7:30 p.m.

     Joan Ozark Holmer, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of English literature at Georgetown University, will discuss “Shakespeare and the Drama of Love.” To reinforce her claim that Shakespeare “arguably wears the crown for representing the varieties and vagaries of love on the English stage,” Dr. Holmer will focus chiefly on romantic love in two well-known and frequently performed plays, Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice, written within two years of each other in the different genres of tragedy and comedy.

     “In my lecture I will explore some important Renaissance ideas about love and ideals for love, which have been primarily shaped by Christianity, especially Augustine’s view that all human action is rooted in love,” said Dr. Holmer. “However, the distinction between right and wrong love depends on one’s attitude toward God and the things of the world. How and why does Shakespeare dramatically foreground and creatively integrate these ideas through refashioning his literary sources, whether for tragedy or comedy? If human life cannot flourish without love, what might we learn from Shakespeare’s enactments and explorations of what it means to be human and to love?”

     Dr. Holmer became particularly interested in Shakespeare’s preoccupation with love when conducting research for her book, The Merchant of Venice: Choice, Hazard and Consequence, published by Macmillan and St. Martin’s Press, which illustrates how “Shakespeare entertains and educates us through dilemmas of choice and ironic reversals that expose the human difficulty of discerning and practicing how to love rightly.”

     In addition to multiple essays on the plays considered for this lecture, Dr. Holmer has published articles on Shakespeare’s Othello and Hamlet and has investigated the influences of writers like Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Nashe, Edmund Spenser, Vincentio Saviolo and Erasmus on Shakespeare’s work. Other articles focus on Renaissance authors, such as William Browne, Robert Herrick and John Milton. “My passion, however, is the classroom,” said Dr. Holmer, who retired after 35 years at Georgetown University, where she received the Edward B. Bunn Award for Faculty Excellence and the Dean’s Georgetown College Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

     The J.J. Quinn, S.J., Memorial Lecture at The University of Scranton celebrates the Catholic intellectual tradition and honors the late J.J. Quinn, S.J., who served as a professor of English at the University for more than four decades.

     For information about the Quinn Lecture, contact 941-4094.

Back to Top