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King Lear from Shakespeare to Succession (The One Series)

ENGL 4500.301
MW 1:45-3:14pm


When the executive producer of HBO's House of the Dragon was asked to compare it to Game of Thrones, he said: "It's more of a King Lear story than it is a sprawling epic." But what exactly is a King Lear story? This One Series course will tackle this very question. Often considered Shakespeare's greatest play, King Lear is also in the running for his most devastating. Lear’s blend of civil war, familial collapse, and brutality haunted the play’s earliest editors and inspired some of its greatest adaptations. We will follow the King Lear story from Shakespeare’s great tragedy to the novels, poems, and films that retell and reimagine its narrative. Together, we will traverse across genres, geographies, and centuries. Readings will transport us to feudal Japan in Akira Kurosawa’s Ran (1981), present-day India in Preti Taneja’s We That Are Young (2017), Westeros in House of the Dragon (2022), and 19th-century England in John Keats’ struggle to sit down and “Read King Lear Once Again”. Assignments will include brief research exercises and short writing in various forms. For the final projects, students will have the choice of a critical essay or creative project. No previous experience with Shakespeare is necessary.


English Major Requirements
  • Literature Seminar pre-1700 (AEB7)
  • Literature Seminar pre-1900 (AEB9)
  • Sector 3 Medieval/Renaissance (AEMR)
English Concentration Attributes
  • Medieval/Renaissance Concentration (AEMC)
College Attributes