Friday, August 19, 2016

Syllabus Number Three: Shakespeare Topics

My topic is geographies.  What I want to do is bring together my interest in physical space/resources, race, ecocriticism.

I've mapped out some, a little.

We'll start with the physical space of the stage.  (I could use suggestions beyond Weimann for this.)

And a little bit on the physical space of printed pages, because Folios and Quartos are so interesting!

Then we'll move into the stage in London, and London in England.

And then we'll move into the Mediterranean and broader Europe and the world, sort of.

I've chosen the plays:

Merry Wives
1 Henry IV
Anthony and Cleopatra
Merchant of Venice
Winter's Tale

What do you think?  Suggestions for readings, fun stuff to do?

I love trying to teach new combinations and approaches, but it's also always lots of hard work.


  1. Several of the essays in Early Modern Theatricality (ed. Henry S. Turner) have a lot to say about the physical space of the stage. I can't find the book right now, so I'm not sure about titles / authors, but there was one about the relationship between enclosed, purpose-built theaters and interiority (in the psychological sense) that was pretty interesting, and also one about scenes of gaming (backgammon in Arden of Faversham, vide-ruff in A Woman Killed With Kindness) and what spectators plausibly could or could not have seen when actors play games onstage.

  2. I'm sure there's probably some research about how far apart warring armies would camp. Maybe when you do 1H4 you could take them to some green space on campus (if it exists) and have them measure out how far apart the armies would be and how that might affect their understanding of the way battles like Shrewsbury might work. (In real life, that is... not in the theatre.) And then! Then you could talk about how staging such things in a smaller theatre would be a challenge and talk about how that would be worked out. Might be fun.

    1. Thanks, that's a fun idea!

    2. Having students perform the parallel Hal / Hotspur and Douglas / Falstaff fight scenes in class is really fun -- it brings home all sorts of things about simultaneous action and theatrical sleight-of-hand that aren't necessarily obvious when you read it on the page (because the students in the audience realize they can't look everywhere at once) as well as how neatly the comic and tragic moments comment on each other.