Dympna Callaghan kicks off series dedicated to late great teacher with 'Shakespeare's Bodies':
Have you thought about wax, as in malleable wax, its permanence or as a word to describe conversation or to polish a floor? How about marble - its permanence, ability to be sculpted or current popularity as a material for kitchens, baths and floors? Lastly, have you thought of wax and marble as written by William Shakespeare in his sonnets?
Dympna Callaghan has given great thought to wax and marble, particularly as used by Shakespeare (1564-1616) in Sonnet 53: "What is your substance, whereof are you made?" She explored this enigmatic question during her April 24 talk at Bird Library, titled "Shakespeare's Bodies." The presentation, sponsored by Syracuse University Library Associates, kicked off the first of what will be annual Mary Marshall lectures. Marshall (1903-2000) was a founder of Library Associates and the first woman at Syracuse University to achieve the rank of full professor in The College of Liberal Arts. She was an eminent Shakespeare scholar. Callaghan, who has written several books and many articles concerning Shakespeare, is Dean's Professor in the Humanities at SU.
When Sanford Sternlicht, longtime professor at the university, introduced Callaghan to the capacity audience, he said, "Mary Marshall was the Dympna Callaghan of her time. At the conclusion of the talk, he quipped, "Dympna Callaghan is the Mary Marshall of our time."
A long fascination with Shakespeare
Callaghan spoke of the long fascination with Shakespeare, particularly of his image. What did he look like? How is it possible to recapture a living author to an inert image when there were no cameras? Only imagined images remain. "Having a photo of Shakespeare would be like having one of the true cross. Why do we yearn for such a trace of Shakespeare's body? Little is known of his life; the only personal relics are two signatures," she said.