2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
    Feb 06, 2023  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog
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ENG 384 - Living Traditions: William Shakespeare

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Shakespeare, considered the center of the English-language canon, is a writer so inexhaustible that any attempt to be comprehensive is doomed to failure. This course will focus on his plays (as well as drama, more broadly) and treat them as they as living documents meant to be performed. We will focus on two plays: the tragedy of Hamlet and one of the “problem” plays, The Merchant of Venice. Excerpts from Greek drama, Latin prose, and Danish history will provide the Danish play its deep background, and we’ll compare it with Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy and Twain’s spoof in Huckleberry Finn. How actors and directors have interpreted the play will be a central interpretive lens. With Merchant of Venice, we will track down biblical and Italian sources, and find contrast in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, as well as link the drama with anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Again we will look at contemporary productions, focusing on differing treatments of Shylock. By looking at fewer plays with greater depth, students will gain a method for how to read and understand any other play by Shakespeare-whose poetry, brilliance, and well of empathy know few if any equals.

Prerequisite(s): ENG 200.

Offered Spring 2022 and Spring 2025.
Living Traditions courses illuminate ways in which writers, writing from within their social milieu and in a given form or mode, use art to explore vital questions of human existence. Starting with a representative figure, these courses explore that author’s historical and literary influences as well as the contemporary legacy, examining ways in which literary artists and their ideas continue to transform culture.



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