ENG 253 - Advanced Studies in Shakespeare
ADVANCED STUDIES IN SHAKESPEARE: KINGS, QUEENS, TYRANTS
“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”
- King Richard II
You might be familiar with pledging allegiance to a flag but what about to a head of state? While one may be a normal way of life for some, the other may stir up a sense of discomfort. The question at the core of that feeling is: what makes someone a person worth following? Perhaps it’s that they have a voice or that they’ve simply been victorious in a contest. A good leader, you might add, has vision, are virtuous individuals, and value people. What does leadership look like in Shakespeare, and what can we learn from those depictions today? This seminar will focus on effective and failed leadership in the forms of kings, queens, and tyrants, but those categories can be extended to all kinds of manifestations, even in the modern world. We will read a range of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories, and tragedies to determine how those plays not only reflect the historical crises in the early modern period but also anticipate political crises to come. We will examine how politics intersects with cultural perspectives and prejudices around race, gender, disability, and religion. Moreover, we will develop and revise hypotheses about how these plays critique but also reimagine a philosophy of benevolent and effective leadership. Our course readings will begin by analyzing theories about leadership, such as by Aristotle and Machiavelli, available in Shakespeare’s time. From there, we will take a deep dive into plays like Hamlet, Richard II, Measure for Measure, The Tempest, and King Lear.
For undergraduate English majors this course satisfies the Period (D-1) requirement. Prerequisites: ENG 120 or TA 214 or permission of the Instructor.
Prerequisites: ENG 120 or TA 214 or permission of the Instructor.
Anticipated Terms Offered: Periodically