Winter 2015 quarter
Shakespeare’s plays are in many ways notoriously conservative. Women dress up as men, only to be railroaded into marriage at the end of the play; Jews and people of color are regularly treated horribly by otherwise likeable characters; servants are routinely sidelined into supporting roles. Early in the 20 th century, E.M.W. Tillyard went so far as to argue that the plays were written expressly for the purpose of maintaining the Elizabethan social order. Since the 1960s, however, scholars and theater professionals have been working to draw out the subversive content of the plays, arguing that Shakespeare’s representation of oppressive social norms can be read as a critique of those norms—as well as a prefiguration of our own contemporary political struggles.
This program is designed for students who want to engage in the project of reading literary texts against the grain. Liking Shakespeare is not a prerequisite. Rather, our focus will be on studying and practicing various modes of literary criticism—Marxist, feminist, psychoanalytic, and post-colonial, as well as methodologies informed by queer theory and disability studies. Students will read one play (primarily histories and tragedies) per week, along with sample pieces of literary criticism, and will write essays applying particular modes of literary theory to the plays. At the end of the quarter, students will write a dramaturgical analysis informed by at least one mode of literary criticism, and will perform sample scenes that embody their interpretation of the play. Our central question is a simple one: “What, if anything, can Shakespeare’s plays DO for us? What kind of social work can we make them perform?”
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day
|March 13th, 2014||New opportunity added.|