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Terence Hawkes (1932-2014)

Born in Birmingham, Terence Hawkes, late Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Cardiff University, was a lifelong member of the Cardiff academic community. He completed his BA (1955), MA (1958) and PhD (1964) at University College, Cardiff here before returning after a year’s lecturing in Aberystwyth to spend the rest of his career at Cardiff (1961-1999).

Terry was one of the foremost Shakespeare scholars of his generation and a key figure in the transformation of the study of English Literature in the late twentieth century and was a leading light of the community of scholars responsible for creating the reputation of ‘Cardiff English’ as a byword for critical innovation.

A founder and Honorary Fellow of the British Shakespeare Association, Professor Hawkes’s approach to Shakespeare in works like Shakespeare’s Talking Animals (11973), That Shakespeherian Rag (1986), Meaning by Shakespeare (1992), and Shakespeare in the Present (2002) provided theoretical and scholarly support to a radical new approach to reading and performing Shakespeare in the context of current cultural and political concerns. The innovative nature of his approaches was reflected in the three volumes of Alternative Shakespeares. He was responsible for overseeing the first of these (1985), edited by his former PhD student, John Drakakis, before editing the second volume (1996) himself. After his retirement from Cardiff, Terry co-edited Presentist Shakespeares (2007).

Terry’s volume of Alternative Shakespeares appeared in the agenda-shifting New Accents series initiated by Methuen and taken forward by Routledge. The first volume of the series was his own ground-breaking introduction to Structuralism and Semiotics. Under Terry’s general editorship, the New Accents series played a major role during the last quarter of the century in opening up the field of literary studies to new theoretical and methodological approaches and to new media. In an exemplary manner, Terry’s short monograph made debates in literary and linguistic theory accessible to young scholars and students in the UK and abroad. The full 41 volumes of New Accents were reissued in a library edition by Routledge in 2003 as a monument to the transformation of literary studies in which Terry was such a formative figure. A further legacy of his intellectual courage and collaborative endeavours is Textual Practice, one of the most respected British-based literature journals in the world, which Terry founded in 1987. In 1989, Terry was part of the team led by Catherine Belsey, and including Chris Norris and Chris Weedon, who founded the Cardiff Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory.

Professor Hawkes’s critical works and editorial endeavours ensured his international reputation as a critical and scholar and, once again, he used his position to engage scholars and extend access to new approaches to English through his role on Advisory Committees of the British Council and the Commonwealth Commission. As an organiser of the annual British Council Seminar in Cambridge and the biannual British Council Symposium in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, he encouraged, challenged, and, as with every aspect of his work, amused and entertained new generations of scholars from around the world.