The Merchant of Venice: Sources, Intertexts, Afterlives (2024)

The Merchant of Venice: Sources, Intertexts, Afterlives


Centring on a performance of Gareth Armstrong’s acclaimed one-man show, Shylock, this symposium explores new perspectives on one of Shakespeare’s most culturally significant plays. We examine The Merchant of Venice in early modern England, particularly its engagement with myths and images of Jewishness current at the time; and its later reception, performance history, and appropriation.

Click here for more information about Gareth Armstrong’s Shylock.

The symposium begins with a display in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery featuring both early Jewish manuscripts from the Cecil Roth collection and printed books from Shakespeare’s England. It continues with the performance of Shylock, followed by a Q&A with Gareth Armstrong. Practical workshops in performance and creative writing will give delegates a chance to explore their responses. We then have research papers by invited speakers: Abi Shinn (Goldsmiths), Tom Rutter (Sheffield), Richard Meek (Hull), Lois Potter (Delaware), Richard Ashby (KCL), and Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam). The event concludes with a roundtable discussion, a drinks reception, and a conference dinner.

Click here to download the symposium poster (PDF).

Tickets and Registration

Please note that you may buy a ticket for the performance without registering for the rest of the symposium.

Click here to book tickets for the performance and/or register for the symposium.


Friday 9 February 2024

4:30 – 6:00 pm Book display, Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery (drop-in)
7:00 – 8:15 pm Performance of Shylock, Workshop Theatre, Studio 1 (ticketed)
8:30 – 9:00 pm Q&A with Gareth Armstrong, chaired by Jane Rickard (University of Leeds)

Saturday 10 February 2024

10:00 – 12:00 pm Practical workshops
José A. Pérez Díez (University of Leeds), ‘Shifting Perspectives’, Workshop Theatre, Studio 1
  Creative Writing:
Jess Richards and J.R. Carpenter (University of Leeds), ‘Bending, Lending and Borrowing Lines’, Workshop Theatre, Studio 2
12:00 – 1:30 pm Lunch (own arrangements)
  All of the afternoon sessions will be held in the Workshop Theatre, Studio 1
1:30 – 3:00 pm Panel 1: The Merchant of Venice in Early Modern England
Chair: Alex Thom (University of Leeds)
  Abi Shinn (Goldsmiths, University of London), ‘Where is Barabas’ House? Architecture and Conversion in The Jew of Malta and The Merchant of Venice
  Tom Rutter (University of Sheffield), ‘The Merchant of Venice and the Theatrical Culture of the 1590s’
  Richard Meek (University of Hull), ‘Shylock’s Affections’
3:00 – 3:30 pm Tea
3:30 – 5:00 pm Panel 2: The Merchant of Venice: Performance and Adaptation
Chair: Martin Butler (University of Leeds)
  Richard Ashby (King’s College London), ‘Shylock and the Resentments of Jean Améry, Auschwitz Survivor’
  Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University), ‘Whose Body?: The Merchant of Venice in Detective Fiction’
  Lois Potter (University of Delaware), ‘Some Presentist Productions of The Merchant of Venice’ [Slide]
5:00 – 5:30 pm Roundtable
Chair: Brett Greatley-Hirsch (University of Leeds)
5:30 – 6:30 pm Drinks reception

Venues and Access

Click here for information about and directions to the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, where the book display will be held.

For details about and directions to The Workshop Theatre, click here.


The symposium registration fee includes tea/coffee and a drinks reception. Lunch is not provided but vouchers entitling you to a 20% discount at Miro Café, opposite the Parkinson building on the University of Leeds campus, on Saturday 10 February will be available. There are various reasonably-priced places to eat on and around campus, including in the Students’ Union.

Practical Workshops

You may choose to attend one of two practical workshops:

  • The performance workshop, ‘Shifting perspectives’, will give participants the opportunity to try out different ways of performing scenes from The Merchant of Venice. Taking its cue from how Gareth Armstrong’s Shylock foregrounds the character of Tubal, the workshop will focus on minor characters and think about what the play might look like from their perspective. No preparation or acting experience is required and texts will be provided. The workshop will be led by Dr José A. Pérez Díez, Lecturer in Early Modern Drama and Co-Convenor of Playhouse Lab (University of Leeds).
  • The creative writing workshop, ‘Bending, Lending and Borrowing Lines’, will give participants the opportunity to experiment with the use of text as raw material. Working with print-outs of text from The Merchant of Venice and other ‘found’ textual material associated with the symposium, the workshop will explore layering, intertextuality, and appropriation. No preparation is required and materials will be provided. The workshop will be led by Jess Richards (Lecturer in Creative Writing, author and artist) and J.R. Carpenter (Lecturer in Creative Practice, artist, writer, researcher and maker of zines.)

You will have an opportunity to give your preference when you register for the symposium, but please note that numbers for these workshops are capped and places will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

Travel Bursaries

We have funding for a limited number of travel bursaries for postgraduate students studying at other universities. If you wish to apply, please send a brief statement (c. 500 words) outlining how attendance at the symposium will benefit your current studies, and detailing your travel costs, to Jane Rickard ( and Brett Greatley-Hirsch (


For enquiries, please contact the organisers, Jane Rickard ( and Brett Greatley-Hirsch (