We have been shocked and saddened to learn that our colleague Christian Smith died suddenly in Berlin last Saturday. Christian was a dynamic and highly valued contributor to the Shakespeare in Philosophy programme at both the Temple and the Rose Theatre, and as a Shakespeare Research Fellow of Kingston University from 2017 to 2020, he played a leading part in the momentous 2018 Rose conference on ‘Shakespeare and Presentism’. The title of his lecture at this event – ‘From Presentism to Activism’ – encapsulated his own engaged involvement in Shakespeare Studies, an approach that is on powerful display in his magnum opus, his just-published book Shakespeare’s Influence on Karl Marx: The Shakespearean Roots of Marxism (Routledge).
The video of Christian’s participation in the 2016 Rose conference on ‘Shakespearean Thresholds’ provides a lasting record of his force and presence [https://youtu.be/Pr8kBXCK0Ks]. He later organised another provocative conference at the theatre, ‘Little Stars and Galloping Steeds: Sex in Shakespeare’, and spoke eloquently at the Temple on ‘Marx, Shakespeare, and the Theory of Labour Power’. Most recently, he had been planning a Temple conference in celebration of Hugh Grady, adopting his great mentor’s title, ‘Dialectic of Hope’. If two words can summarise his own unique perspective on academic life they are surely ‘Activism’ and ‘Hope’. Christian Smith was a lone star extinguished too soon, but the light he shone for us, as a chair, presenter and convenor, will guide us for years to come.
On behalf of Shakespeare in Philosophy,