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A garden of regimes: Dr. Joseph Wysocki gives lecture on power and Shakespeare

By: Tanner Adomaitis, Staff Writer

Originally Published February 6, 2024

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Dr. Joseph Wysocki of Belmont Abbey College visited Saint Vincent College (SVC) to give a lecture titled Tending One’s Garden: Lessons About Power and Its Loss in Shakespeare’s Henriad for the Center for Political and Economic Thought (CPET).

Dr. Joseph Wysocki visited Saint Vincent College as a guest speaker for the Center for Political and Economic Thought. (SOURCE: CPET FLYER)

Wysocki earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Belmont Abbey College, followed by earning his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Political Science from Baylor University. Wysocki has since returned to Belmont Abbey College as the Interim Provost and Dean of the Honors College.

Wysocki began his talk by providing an overview of Shakespeare’s Henriad before stepping into the analogy of political regimes as gardens from a passage from “Richard II” that would reappear throughout the talk.

“What I wanted to think about with this talk, is what we might consider this image of good gardening as it relates to a regime. In the passage, there are certain verbs we might consider that relate to gardening, such as binding and supporting. What might a ruler do to bind and support certain things, such as ideas, people, and populations in a regime?” Wysocki said.

Another running theme throughout Wysocki’s lecture was gaining, maintaining, and losing power, and how the constant struggle between the three affects regimes. Using the metaphor of crowns for power, Wysocki addressed how modern regimes are constantly shifting their power.

Title slide of Dr. Wysocki’s presentation that accompanied the lecture. (SOURCE: ADOMAITIS)

“In modernity, crowns are always being lost,” Wysocki said.

Wysocki furthered his talk by comparing various passages from the Henriad plays to each other as well as to other philosophers, such as Alexis De Tocqueville, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Friedrich Nietzsche and their philosophies regarding power and politics. Wysocki then began his conclusion by questioning the missing beliefs of rulers within the Henriad.

“We reflect on power, we reflect on politics, but what is missing?” Wysocki said. “For those of us who are Christians, there seems to be a missing response to the loss of one’s garden.

In the Henriad, the loss of one’s garden should bring to mind the loss of the Garden of Eden. I’m not convinced that the kings in the Henriad faced with loss of their kingdom or life ever considered death or judgement.”

Wysocki’s lecture concluded with questions from the audience, focusing on the effects of regimes as gardens and examining Shakespeare’s political thought.

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