• Amid WPI’s plethora of prestigious awards for advancement in sciences and mathematics, recognition for its stellar Humanities and Arts program can sometimes be passed over. The university will remind the WPI community about the importance of literary art with its latest honor – the acceptance of junior Angelia Giannone’s paper to the Undergraduate Shakespeare Conference Consortium’s 13thannual conference, to be held April 26, 9am–4:30pm, in the Blue Lounge of Worcester State University’s Student Center.
Giannone has always enjoyed literature and writing. Growing up, she would happily pick apart novels and short stories with her older sister, who was also deeply involved with English. Giannone’s love for the literary arts has since translated into a liberal arts and engineering major, with concentrations in electrical and computer engineering and writing, along with the additional pursuit of an English minor. With so much on her plate, it’s a wonder Giannone was able to find the time to submit a paper to a conference whose prestige reaches as far as Ontario, Canada. What makes her selection even more remarkable is that prior to this year, Giannone has read only one of Shakespeare’s works.
“Until I took Professor Michelle Ephraim’s Shakespeare seminar course in C-Term, I had barely read any Shakespeare, with the exception of The Taming of the Shrew in high school,” says Giannone. “I hoped this course would give me a well-rounded knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays.”
What she got instead was much better. Instead of providing general acknowledgment for Shakespeare’s endless number of characters and plotlines, Professor Ephraim decided to focus on one specific play: King Lear.
“Reading only one of Shakespeare’s plays turned out to be extremely beneficial,” says Giannone. “As a small class, we were able to really analyze and understand the deeper meanings behind the text.”
The tragedy follows the title character of King Lear as he splits his estate between two of his three daughters based on their ability to flatter him before eventually realizing their wickedness, descending into madness, and finally dying. Lear’s Fool acts as his companion throughout the play, and he is the title character in Christopher Moore’s 2009 novel Fool.
“Fool is one of the novels we read during the Shakespeare seminar,” says Giannone. “The story is a retelling of King Lear from the perspective of the Fool, Pocket, so the entire novel is filled with humor, both witty and raunchy. It’s originally what drew me in, and now having read Moore’s version of the story, the Fool is one of my favorite literary characters ever written.”
Giannone’s paper, “Moore’s Fool as a Complex Understanding of Shakespeare’s King Lear,” explores Moore’s conception of the character Edmund the Bastard, one of the central villains in Shakespeare’s play. Giannone argues that Moore sheds new light on Edmund’s scheming by constructing his actions as a product of Pocket’s own masterminding.
“Fool provides fresh interpretations of direct quotes from King Lear, reworked into chapter titles such as “Our Darker Purpose,” to incorporate a different understanding of Edmund’s seemingly evil ways, and how Pocket has influenced his decisions,” says Giannone. “This allows the reader to uncover an emotional depth through a new perspective, which is absent in Shakespeare’s King Lear.”
Giannone will be presenting in Panel F on Saturday sometime between 2 and 3:10 pm. The panel, titled “The Shadow Knows,” falls under the theme of this year’s conference, “Shakespeare Noir: Destabilization, Corruption, Irruption, Illumination, Liberation.” In addition to the readings, lunch will be provided and selections from the Worcester State Theatre production of Twelfth Night will be performed.
BY KELSEY KEOGH