In what sense is Shakespeare “contemporary,” “modern,” or “post-modern”?
We will be asking this question in the company of a number of philosophical and theoretical works, including Vico, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Croce, Foucault, and Jameson.
And we will be reading some recent Shakespeare criticism to see how presentist claims are made in the name of interiority, the nation state, globalization, issues of race, class, and gender.
But our main focus will be on a selection of Shakespeare’s poems and plays set in the past, both proximate and remote: Sonnets, Rape of Lucrece,Julius Caesar, King John, Hamlet, Cymbeline, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra. Can any kind of period concepts for Greek, Roman, Gothic, Medieval pasts be said to be operating in these works? What kind of distance is introduced by setting a play in the past? When is the historical respected or abrogated, and how are both kinds of awareness “staged”? How are chronology and geography coordinated-- anachronism and anatopism?
Shakespeare will be read in early quarto/Folio play-texts as well as modern editions.
Several brief class presentations and one term paper required.