English | Readings in Shakespeare
L625 | 28060 | Charnes

L625  28060  CHARNES (#2)
Readings in Shakespeare

1:00p – 2:15p TR


This course will read Shakespeare’s plays in the context of the
political psychology that immediately follows Shakespeare’s own
lifetime.  That is to say, we will begin with the English Civil War,
the execution of King Charles I in 1649, and then turn our gaze
backward, to see if we can read models and fantasies of
republicanism in the influential works of Shakespeare.  Of course we
will read the “second tetralogy,” but we will also read Hamlet, King
Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest, to look at how
Shakespeare presages or arguably even helps to expedite the death of
the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings.  Depending on how much
experience students have with Shakespeare at the graduate level, we
may in the second half of the semester investigate some of
Shakespeare’s impact in the early years of the new American
republic.  We will study the debates over British and early
republican aesthetics, both literary and theatrical, and examine the
characterological, representational, psychological and political
impact of the decay of absolute monarchy as it coincides with the
rise of mercantile capitalism and social mobility. Readings will
include selections from major Renaissance scholars, political
theorists, Performance Studies, early American authors, some
colonial and English theater history.

Students will be asked to write weekly response notes to the ready,
and to write two position papers of 10-15pp each.  The second should
be written as a potential conference paper, and as such, will
require a bit of independent research and a separate, if small,
critical bibliography.  Attendance and participation in weekly
discussion will be key and a significant component of your course

Required Texts:
Shakespeare.   King Richard II;  1 Henry IV; 2 Henry
IV;  King Henry V;
Hamlet; King Lear; Antony and
Cleopatra; The Tempest

Additional readings:
Christopher Hill, sel. Century of Revolution
Jon Elster, Political Psychology
Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities
Tom Nairn, sel. Faces of Nationalism
Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and
Bare Life
Michael Bristol.  sel. from Shakespeare’s America,
America’s Shakespeare.
Frances Teague.  sel. from Shakespeare and
American Popular Stage
Alan Sinfield.  Sel. from Faultlines:  Essays in
Cultural Materialism
Robert Weimann. sel. from Shakespeare and the
Popular Tradition of the Stage.
Slavoj Zizek, from For They Know Not What They Do:
Enjoyment as a
Political Factor

Possible Readings:
Bruce McConachie,  from Melodramatic Formations:
American Theatre and
Society, 1820-1870
Jeffrey H. Richards,  from Drama, Theatre and
Identity in the American
New Republic
Heather Nathans, from Early American Theatre  from
the Revolution to Jefferson
Herman Melville.  “Hawthorne and his Mosses”
Washington Irving.  “Stratford on Avon”
John Quincy Adams.  “Misconceptions of Shakspeare
upon the Stage”
Walt Whitman.  “A Thought on Shakspere”
Delia Bacon.  William Shakespeare and his Plays.
Mark Twain.  “Barnum and Shakespeare”