Shakespeare, In Theory
247 West 37th St, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Dark, quizzical, enchanted, sublime, Shakespeare’s work has proven irresistible to modern thinkers across traditions as diverse as social and political theory, continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, feminist scholarship, queer theory, and the wide spectrum of literary studies. What does Shakespeare’s work look like in the hands of Judith Butler, Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, and Sigmund Freud? What do literary and social theory look like when considered through the lens of Shakespeare? Is it possible to consider Shakespeare and theory together without impoverishing either?
In this course, we will think through affinities and resistances among Shakespeare and his theorists via four of his major plays: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest. What does it mean to act or fail to act ethically? Why do we categorize different kinds of experiences as sane or mad? What constitutes a drama of jealousy or desire? How should we imagine our own mortality? Is love possible? Can we envision viable alternatives–aesthetically, socially, or otherwise–to forms of oppression from patriarchy to colonial violence? What are the powers of art and imagination? As we chase our answers through Ophelia’s grief and Hamlet’s antic disposition, Iago’s treachery and Othello’s descent, the storms of Lear and Prospero, we’ll pair these dramatic works with texts of criticism and theory by Benjamin, Blanchot, Cavell, Empson, Fanon, Foucault, Freud, Girard, Klein, Marx, and Sedgwick. Supplementary materials will also feature a selection of adaptations of the plays and creative responses to them.
Course ScheduleThursday, 6:30-9:30pm
November 16 — December 16, 2017
4 sessions over 5 weeks
We will skip Thanksgiving i.e. Thursday, November 23rd.