Our project in this course will be to look at the different forms -- material and ideational -- Hamlet has taken from Shakespeare's time to the present. The seminar will enable participants to practice and evaluate some of the basic approaches and methodologies of advanced literary study: bibliographic, historical, performative, psychoanalytic, theoretical. The semester will begin with a close examination of the differences among the three earliest texts of the play Q1 (1603), Q2 (1604), and F (1623) . This will be followed by a study of how the playtext has been reproduced, both for reading through the editorial tradition (from early 18th to late 20th) and for performance, with special emphasis on Davenant's influential 1676 Players' Quarto. While histories of Hamlet criticism generally begin after 1800, we will be sifting through earlier allusions and commentary (including parodies), paying particular attention to Beauties and Faults criticism that preoccupied the 18th century before the 19th century turn to characterological or psychological criticism. The seminar will then consider how the play has ranged outside dramatic confines into other genres and discourses: (1) Hamlet and the novel (Goethe, Dickens, Fielding, Joyce); (2) Hamlet and psychoanalysis (Coleridge, Freud, Lacan, Zizek, Lyotard); (3) Hamlet and philosophy (Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Bejamin, Levinas, Derrida). We will conclude by scrutinizing several important recent approaches (Halpern on Modernism, Weimann on early modern modes of performance, Greenblatt on Reformation theology).
A short (2-3 pages) essay will be required each week.