Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG435H1S L0101

ENG435H1S    L0101    T10-12
Advanced Studies Group 3: Postcolonial Shakespeares: Stage Interpretations in Our Times and Worlds
Professor Uzo Esonwanne
Office Phone: 416-946-3917
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, JHB 715

Brief Description of Course: In 2012, Syrian refugees in the Zaatari camp in Jordan performed Shakespeare’s King Lear. In doing so, they trod a well-beaten path, one that, one could argue, postcolonial playwrights such as Aimé Césaire (Une tempête 1969) and George Lamming (Water with Berries1971) had beaten out of the entanglements of Shakespeare in their ambiguous colonial heritage. producers, and filmmakers in the postcolonial world had beaten decades before. So it is that, today, Shakespeare’s plays, particularly the tragedies, travel the globe. But why? When? How? Consider the question,why. Is it because, of all the cultural texts that comprise our shared heritage, Shakespeare’s plays are the best crafted to speak to “the universal human condition?” Or could it because, inhabiting a world rendered profoundly unstable by the triumph of a radical scepticism that puts all “truth,” all fact, and all master narratives in doubt, we turn to Shakespeare for theatre that dramatizes characters caught in crises of the kinds we now must confront? Answering these questions is neither easy nor comfortable. Yet it is what we will attempt to do in this course. To do so,we will read a select number of Shakespeare’s tragedies alongside/against their interpretations/adaptations in both graphic format and audiovisual recordings (available on DVD, YouTube, and the MIT Global Shakespeare Video & Performance Archive) of stage performances from India, Kurdistan, Doha, etc.

Required Reading: Any compilation of Shakespeare’s tragedies or complete works.

First Three Authors/Texts: Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear.
Primarily discussion, with occasional lectures (pre-class preparation is vital).

Method of Evaluation: Two short papers, one oral presentation, one research paper.

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