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The UT Knoxville Department of English is sponsoring a series of events this week featuring Richard Halpern, professor of English at Johns Hopkins University. Halpern will lecture on “Greek Theater and Democratic Thought: Arendt to Rancière,” 4 p.m. Thursday, March 18, in 1210 McClung Tower, followed by a reception. Halpern will lead a seminar on his recent essay, “Hamlet and the Political Economy of Playing,” noon Friday, March 19, in 1210 McClung Tower.

Both events are free and open to the public, and graduate students are encouraged to attend the Friday event.

At both talks, Halpern will speak about his current book project, “Eclipse of Action: Tragedy and Political Economy,” which traces the dilemma of modern tragedy to an economic context that elevates making or production over doing or action, and uses this context to cast a retrospective glance over the history of tragic drama from Aeschylus to Beckett.

Halpern’s research interests include 16th- and 17th-century literature, especially drama; Shakespeare; modernism; literary theory, especially Marxist and psychoanalytic theory; aesthetics; science and literature. His books include “The Poetics of Primitive Accumulation: English Renaissance Culture and the Genealogy of Capital” (Cornell, 1991), “Shakespeare Among the Moderns” (Cornell, 1997), “Shakespeare’s Perfume” (Penn, 2002), and “Norman Rockwell: The Underside of Innocence” (University of Chicago Press, 2006).

Halpern has taught at Yale University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He won a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in 1993-1994 and is currently on the editorial board of English Literary History.

Halpern’s visit is part of the 2009-2010 Visiting Speakers Series sponsored by the Department of English.

For more information, e-mail Mary Dzon at mdzon@utk.edu.