Ophelia's Rue: Shakespeare in Post-Roe America

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Thursday, September 21, 2023

6:00 pm — 7:30 pm


Open to the Public

The Center for the Study of Women and Society and the Society for the Study of Women in the Renaissance are pleased to present Alicia Andrzejewski, "Ophelia's Rue: Shakespeare in Post-Roe America" on Zoom.

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What can Shakespeare's plays tell us about abortion and bodily autonomy in a post-Roe America? In this talk, Andrzejewski attends to how characters like Ophelia “bring down flowers” in Shakespeare’s plays to remind us that people have sought early and late term abortions across time, and that this search is represented in the most canonical of authors, of texts. She puts Shakespeare’s plays in conversation with early modern medical texts and receipt books, interviews with herbalists and abortion doulas, and her personal experience with herbal abortifacients to think through Ophelia’s “rue”—her isolation, her sadness, her only hope to end an unplanned pregnancy. Andrzejewski argues that the desperate, panicked search for information, the dark vials containing the promise of a different life, and the communities that harbored and disseminated this knowledge transcend time— and that these “historical touches across time,” to use Carolyn Dinshaw’s phrase, are particularly important in a post Roe v. Wade world, when pregnant people will be forced to turn to the kinds of remedies available before the medicalization of abortion.