Linda Charnes

1:00p-2:15p T (15 students) 3 cr.

TOPIC: "Shakespeare and Democracy"

This course follows hard upon the heels of a Presidential election; hence its materials will be both timely and productively controversial. Shakespeare wrote plays during a era of absolute monarchy; we read and see them performed in a culture that sets a supreme value upon the concept of "democracy." What can Shakespeare teach us about contemporary American politics? Is there anything "democratic" in Shakespeare's plays? Can a subject of British monarchy in the Renaissance imagine or fantasize about a society organized on different principles? What do Shakespeare's plays teach us about "coalitions of the willing," "advising and consenting," and "we the people"? Can there be such a thing as a Shakespeare for Democracy?

Plays will include King Richard II, Henry IV parts one and two, Henry V, The Merchant of Venice, and The Tempest. We will also read selections from Shakespearean scholars such as Michael Bristol, Marjorie Garber, Lisa Jardine, Terence Hawkes, and Harold Bloom, as well as political philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Thomas Jefferson, and brief selections from political scientists and theorists. We will read the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

Students will turn in weekly response notes, and write two 8-page position papers. Participation in class discussion will count for a significant percentage of the course grade.