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Renaissance Studies: Shakespeare

ENGL 736.301

One only has to imagine studying the life, works, or times of Shakespeare (or any other author) without chronology to realize how critical chronology is to our disciplinary thinking. And yet chronological time (sequential, homogenous, forward moving) has come under fire from a number of directions, including psychoanalysis, queer studies, and postcolonial theory.

In the light of these critiques, this seminar will work to identify and ponder the temporal eccentricities in Shakespeare’s work. Why do neither his plots nor characters develop in time? Why are the historical periods in which his plays are notionally set routinely violated? Why do the hours never add up, much less the years? And what about meter?

This anachronic slant will bring us face to face with some of the problems currently besetting our historicist literary bearings. Can categories and methods devised long after Shakespeare be deployed in interpreting and editing his work? What, exactly, is behind our aversion to anachronism? By what disciplinary strategies (if not methodologies) do we put the time of “back then” into relation with that of the “right now”?

Some theory (e.g. Newton, Hegel, Benjamin, Derrida, Didi-Huberman); a bit of Shakespeare criticism; and several works by Shakespeare, e.g. Sonnets, Rape of Lucrece, Comedy of Errors, Henry V, King Lear, Pericles.

Undergraduates are not permitted to take 700-level courses.