Fall 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:426 Seminar: Shakespeare and Social Justice

01  M  1:00-4:00 pm  CAC   14769  BARTELS   Online

Shakespeare and Social Justice

In this seminar, we will concentrate on two of Shakespeare’s plays – The Merchant of Venice and Othello, The Moor of Venice – that ask us to think about what constitutes not only “justice” but also the “social.” Both plays take place in the historically cosmopolitan space of Venice; and both feature a figure – a Jew, a Moor – whose precarious position within that space raises questions about what it means to be, and not to be, “of Venice.” Who sets the terms of social legitimacy and how? What kinds of markers (race, gender, ethnicity, class, sexuality) count as determinants of identity and privilege? When and how does “justice” come into play as an arbiter of action and meaning? In addressing questions such as these, we’ll think about the text as a script, designed for performance, and we’ll use performance exercises to open up the many interpretive possibilities that each text allows. We will also concentrate on writing, focusing on your papers-in-progress in regular workshops that will help you develop strong critical voices and visions.

Texts: Please purchase the Norton Critical Edition of The Merchant of Venice and Othello.