Why King Henry Has No Friends: An Academic Paper

I spent much of the past week either in London or in transit to and fro from the Halved Heart academic conference at Shakespeare’s Globe, an event celebrating the culmination of their season focusing on friendship in early modern drama. This was hugely exciting for me, partly because I got to spend some time in one of my favorite cities in the world, but largely because this conference seemed custom-tailored for my research background. I wrote my Master’s thesis on Shakespeare’s development of the tradition of male friendship in his comedy plays, so this was right up my alley. I ended up taking a paragraph from an earlier chapter, discussing representations of friendship in Shakespeare that failed to meet the classical requirements of “perfect” friendship, and expanding that into a full paper. Specifically, I looked at how the plays of the Great Tetralogy (Richard II, 1 & 2 Henry IV, and Henry V) demonstrate the lesson that because a king has no equals, a king can have no friends.

Academic writing is such a different beast from fiction writing — and that’s actually why, during grad school and my first couple of years with this company, I quite lost sight of creative writing. Academic writing was taking up so much brainspace that there wasn’t room for much of anything else. It’s just such a different skill set, and I had to make the deliberate choice to carve out the time and space I needed for writing fiction again.

Some things remain in common, however: You want to come across as thoughtful, clever, witty, well-reasoned. You want to demonstrate solid research and facility with language. You want, above all, to captivate an audience.

So, despite that this is from my day job and nothing to do with most of what I discuss on this blog, I still thought it might be nice to share the paper with y’all. This is where my head is when I’m not giving magic to AU ancient Romans, wrestling with the social and political dynamics of a triad star system, or pushing the ruling of a besieged city to her breaking point.

Banish All the World: The Necessary Isolation of Monarchy (or, Why King Henry Has No Friends)

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