Topics in Shakespeare: Shakespeare and the Shaping of Identity
This course will explore what it means in Shakespeare, and to us, to have an identity and be an individual. We will look at how Shakespearean drama foregrounds identity as something that is constructed not in solation but through social interaction between different people, cultures, beliefs, and material objects. These interactions depend on the presence of an Other who is defined as different from the Self, and who defines, through his or her difference, the identity of the Self. We will look carefully at how systems of political, national, racial, and
sexual difference contribute to the forging of identity and how material objects like crowns, handkerchiefs, beds, and rings emblematize those systems of difference on stage.
We will read eight plays and some recent theoretical writing on identity and difference. The list of plays is subject to change, but presently it stands as follows: I Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Winter's Tale. Students will write two or three six to eight page papers and one or two short, exercise-like papers. There will be no exam.