Spring 2016 Undergraduate English Courses: Seminars
358:426 Doubled Selves in Shakespeare
01 TF3 CAC 17375 LEVAO SC-207
he doubling, mirroring, and twinning of the self in Renaissance texts represent some of the strangest but most penetrating ways in which writers tested what literary and intellectual historians often call “Early Modern Individualism.” The doubled self serves as a pivotal image representing antithetical yet complementary impulses: a turning back into solipsistic isolation or a revolving outward to acknowledge some "other"; competitive, self-affirming aggression and the dream of self-completing mutuality; demands for a self-possessed, singular identity and the forging of communal bonds. We will consider some of the imaginative resources behind the figure(s): the mythology of loving and murderous twins; the revival of classical theories of friendship (the friend as "alter ego"); and images of androgyny and hermaphroditism (the doubleness of sexual identity). To this end we will read selections from Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Montaigne, Thomas Elyot, Spenser as well as some more modern theorists and critics. Our primary texts will probably include: “The Phoenix and Turtle,” The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Henry IV, Part One, Hamlet, Macbeth, Coriolanus, The Winter's Tale, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and selected sonnets. A wide variety of approaches will be entertained, but our chief focus throughout will be on Shakespeare’s texts rather than on critical schools or positions as ends in themselves. Students will be required to participate in class discussion, to write short, informal responses to the readings, and to write either three intermediate length papers, or one short and one long final paper.