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Shakespeare and the Question of Difference

ENGL 337.301
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

This course will investigate Shakespeare's representation of those who would have been considered "outsiders" in the Elizabethan London in which he lived and wrote his plays. We will in particular focus on plays containing Moors, Jews, various Europeans, and non-English residents of Britain, namely, the Welsh, the Scots, and the Irish. Plays to be studied will include Titus Andronicus, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, Part I, Henry V, Love's Labor's Lost, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and The Tempest. We will try to understand the terms in which Early Modern English people understood difference, including the meaning, to them, of "race;" the centrality of religion in defining difference; and the role of national identity in distinguishing people by language, diet, and dress. The class will be discussion-based, and we will be reading some very interesting historical work about race, nation, and religion in Early Modern England in conjunction with the plays.