Spring 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

358:426 Seminar: Doubled Selves in Shakespeare

01  TTH5 3:50-5:10 PM    CAC  08267  LEVAO  MU-210

 Doubled Selves in Shakespeare

The doubling, mirroring, and twinning of the self in Renaissance texts represent some of the strangest but most provocative ways writers tested what is often call “Early Modern Individualism.”  The doubled self pivots 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 precedents 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, Spenser as well as some more modern theorists and critics.   Our turn to Shakespeare will take us to “The Phoenix and Turtle,” The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Coriolanus, The Winter's Tale, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and selected sonnets. If this is your first adventure with Shakespeare, you’ll find this approach illuminating. Many of these texts are covered (from a less thematic perspective) in lecture courses 314 and 315, and if you want a second go at them you will be welcome though you should consider the value of broadening your coverage of literary history. Everyone will be required to participate in class discussion, to write short, informal responses to the readings, and to develop, through revision, two formal papers, one short and one long.