Shakespeare in the Mediterranean

Discipline: English Literature
Instructor: Edmundson
Credits: 3
Day: null
Start: 09:25
End: 10:40
Field Work: Day 1 | Italy Download Syllabus

This will be a course in Shakespeare with special emphasis on the way that he uses places to create meanings. As travelers we’ll explore historical and cultural dimensions of countries and cities we visit in which Shakespeare sets his plays. In class we’ll see if we can use what we learn on shore to deepen our sense of what Shakespeare is up to as a playwright. On the way across the Atlantic, we’ll consider the playwright’s sense of England, probably by reading Henry IV, Part I and Henry V. In proximity to Spain we may have a look at Love’s Labors Lost; close to Rome we’ll consider Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and maybe Merchant of Venice. In sight of Greece, we’ll ponder Timon of Athens. In Istanbul, not far from Troy, we’ll read and discuss Troilus and Cressida. (Maybe there will be time to say a word about Othello as we pass Casablanca, or-somewhat fancifully-Winter’s Tale as we near Croatia.) On the way home to America, we’ll read Shakespeare’s play about colonies and brave new worlds, The Tempest. Daily quizzes, two exams, a paper-plenty of work but (for those who like such things) plenty of good times.

Field Work

Country: Italy
Day: 1

This will be a trip to the Coliseum, also known as the Flavian amphitheater. We'll consider its design and its uses as a monument to empire and as a perpetuator of imperial power. We'll learn all we can about the spectacles that took place on the floor of the coliseum: gladiator battles, chariot races, animal fights and the rest. We'll try to understand why these entertainments were as appealing to the Romans as they were-and we'll also speculate on why they are as repugnant (but also as intriguing) to us now as they generally are.