On 16 February, Professor Tiffany Stern delivered the 2022 Bateson Lecture to a packed house in the Corpus Auditorium. Her title was 'Ballads and Product Placement in the Time of Shakespeare’.
'Our merry ballads and lascivious plays / Are much alike’, wrote Francis Quarles, adding ‘Both are fripperies of another’s froth’. The talk explored the mutual and complementary relationship between plays and broadside ballads in Shakespeare’s theatre. Investigating who wrote ballads, who sold them and where, it asked that we rethink the relationship between theatre and retail, performance and print, high and low literature, song and dialogue. Shakespeare and Jonson, it suggested, are just two of the authors who used ballads as strategic cross-marketing – or what, these days, we call product placement.
Tiffany Stern is Professor and Chair of Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham. She specialises in Shakespeare, theatre history from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, book history and editing. She has published eleven books and editions and has another in press on Shakespeare, Malone and the Problems of Chronology. She is general editor of three play and poetry series: New Mermaids Plays, the Norton Anthology of English Literature: Sixteenth Century, and the flagship Shakespeare series Arden Shakespeare. Her current projects are a book on theatre and fairs, a book on early modern product placement and an Arden 4 edition of The Tempest. She was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2019.
The F W Bateson Memorial Lecture was founded by the pupils and friends of F W Bateson (1901-1978). Bateson taught English at Corpus from 1946 to 1969, first as a lecturer and later as a teaching fellow. He was made an Emeritus Fellow of the College on his retirement in 1969. The lectures are held annually. The President was delighted that Freddie Bateson's son and daughter were able to attend this year's lecture.