Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies

Spring 2016-2017


David Simon

This course explores Shakespeare’s histories and comedies. Topics for discussion will include: arguments for the social, political, and moral benefits of theater, as well as for its perniciousness; representations of gender, sexuality, family, and friendship; actors’ and spectators’ experiences of performance; and philosophical theories of laughter, pity, and catharsis. Readings are likely to include Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Much Ado about Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night—as well as a play in which comedy veers into tragedy (Othello) and a film adaptation (Orson Welles’s Chimes at Midnight). (D, E)