L314 2089 CHARNES
Late Plays of Shakespeare

4:00p-5:15p TR (30) 3 cr.

This course will examine social, familial, and sexual politics in eight of Shakespeare’s later plays. We will pay close attention to how ideological and economic systems organize familial and love relations, how conflicts between individuals and social codes are worked out (or not, depending on one’s viewpoint) through strategies of genre, scapegoating, misrecognition, marriage, death and revenge. We will ground our reading of the plays in Elizabethan/Jacobean social and cultural history, considering how the transition from Queen Elizabeth to King James, and an emerging capitalist economy affected the representation of gender, family, and class relationships. We will also read and discuss short selections from Renaissance treatises on court life, the theatre, women, marriage, the body, and the family, as well as several articles representative of some current critical approaches to Shakespeare. One topic for consideration will be postmodern “Bardolatry”: the ongoing influence and visibility of Shakespeare’s plays in contemporary mass culture, especially over the last five to ten years.

Format will be a combination of occasional mini-lectures from me and lots of discussion and participation from you. There will be two papers, a midterm, and a final exam; and attendance and participation will count for a portion of the course grade.

Plays: Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest.