Brief Description of Course: “All the world’s a stage . . . (As You Like It, 2.2). Since, today, “Shakespeare” is so often embroiled in disputes, we can declare that in our times he has become a “stage.” Some claim that these disputes are about the meaning of his plays, others that they are about how we interpret them, and yet others that they are about how the plays are historically deployed and circulate in our world. In this course, we ask: what actually at stake in these disputes? Are they just disputes about, say, the meaning of The Tempest, the method of interpretation, and the reception of the play? Is a claim about the meaning of The Tempest a matter of interpretive method and attitude to the reception of the play, or is each a separate issue? If we say that they are disputes about the reception and circulation of Shakespeare in our world, we must also ask what we mean by “world.” Is this “world” simply the planet or the historically and cultural specific ecologies that each of us inhabits? To address these questions, we will read selected comedies, romances, and tragedies in The Oxford Shakespeare alongside contemporary adaptations (available on YouTube and the MIT Global Shakespeare Video & Performance Archive) and interpretations (to be posted on Blackboard).
Required Reading: The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works.
First Three Authors/Texts: The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, and King Lear.
Method of Instruction: open discussions, in-class activities, and lectures (pre-class preparation is vital)Method of Evaluation: 1 oral presentation (20%, 10 mins. max.), 1 short essay (20%, 4-5 pages, max.), 4 unscheduled participatory activities (20%; no make-ups); and 1 research essay (40%, 8-10 pages, max.)