Talk by Dr. Randall Martin

"'I wish you joy of the worm': Ecology, Evolution, and Hamlet" by Dr. Randall Martin

Friday, November 4th, 3:30pm - Tilley Hall Room 104

Dr. Randall Martin will be giving a talk on the paper entitled "'I wish you joy of the worm': Ecology, Evolution, and Hamlet".

Abstract:  Hamlet is a revenge play premissed on the idea that aggressive retaliation is a natural response to wrongful death and justice denied. But Hamlet famously questions this assumption, for reasons that have been endlessly debated but remain bound by human cultural values.

This talk will suggest that Hamlet's ambivalence towards revenge can also be related to his re-discovery of the natural world, as revealed by the organic labour of worms. Their transformation of the physical afterlives of humans and animals leads Hamlet to reconsider mortality within metabiotic cycles of death and symbiotic regeneration.

This counter-perspective to human-centred revenge can be related to current scientific debates about evolution as constituted either primarily by individual competition and morphological change, or in combination with phylogenetic crossovers and hybridity. Hamlet's thoughts about worms open up a biological hermeneutic that reframes the legitimacy of revenge as an ecocritical, and not merely anthropocentric, dialogue.