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Visiting lecturer uses Shakespeare to theorize on desire

March 19, 2010

Madhavi Menon, Ph.D., associate professor of literature and the director of the M.A. Program in literature at American University, D.C., will visit Loyola University New Orleans to give a lecture, “Un-visible Bodies: Desire in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” as part of the Biever Guest Lecture Series.

The event takes place Wednesday, March 24 at 7 p.m. in Miller Hall, Room 114. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by Loyola’s Asian Studies program and the Loyola’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.

In the talk, Menon will speak on the ways in which she theorizes desire. This includes thinking about desire in relation to the unnamable and in relation to the invisible.

Her talk will begin by reflecting on an example of Shakespeare taken from Bollywood by using points from the film “Dil Chahta Hai,” a 2001 Hindi film written and directed by Farhan Akhtar.

According to Menon, the movie borrows as well as informs Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing,” by demonstrating how unnamed desire is shown to be a powerful stimulus.

“The movie compels us to think about the status of naming in relation to desire.” said Menon. “Does desire have to have a name? If so, then what is it?”

In addition to her Wednesday night lecture, Menon will give a session that will include a reading, “The Prologue: A Close Reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream,” on Wednesday, March 24 at 3:30 p.m., in Marquette Hall, Room 306. The class will be open to all Loyola students.

Menon is the author of “Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama,” University of Toronto Press, 2004; and “Unhistorical Shakespeare: Queer Theory in Shakespearean Literature and Film,” Palgrave, 2008. She is also the editor of “Shakesqueer: A Queer Companion to The Complete Works of Shakespeare” which is the first book to employ “queer theory,” or the critical analysis of homosexual themes and representations in literature, in readings of every one of Shakespeare's poems and plays. In addition to irregularly teaching a class called Shakesqueer, Menon also teaches classes on queer theory, literary theory, Renaissance literature and drama.

She holds a Ph.D. in English from Tufts University, a M.A. in English from the University of Delhi and a B.A. in English with Honors from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Sean Snyder in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs at smsnyder@loyno.edu or call 504-861-5882.

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