Congratulations to Will O’Brien for his winning NCUR Presentation in Humanities. Will competed in the video competition at the 2022 National Conference on Undergraduate Research and we are honored to share his presentation with you.
Abstract from Will O'Brien
Rather than present a character study of King Henry, I seek to use Henry V to investigate how ideological assumptions and reading are inherently linked. When we read, we go through a process of making conjectures based on a set of ideological assumptions. These assumptions guide our reading and may shift or change at any time. The way Shakespeare constructs the narrative and ideologies of Henry V is a reflection of that reading process. By applying theoretical frameworks about ideology and psychoanalysis to Henry V, we can begin to see how the play functions as a turning wheel, constantly shifting the ideological spokes to evade a clear, objective reading. This turning wheel follows a similar pattern of movement as Jacques Lacan’s triad of subject positions developed in his Seminar on The Purloined Letter. In any given situation, there are viewers who are completely blind, viewers who see but are deluded to the “true” secrecy, and viewers who take on the role of analyst, believing they see the situation as it really is for a time. Yet, ideology is always working underneath the surface, eventually subverting the analyst’s notion of clear, uninhibited sight. When we view Henry V and reading in this light, we find that, as critics, there is always an ideology that seeps into our work that complicates our search for truth, just as it does in the world of Shakespeare’s drama.