Shakespeare's Historical Figures

$189 Limited inc GST / $170
Shakespeare's Historical Figures

<p>Never one to let the truth get in the way of a good character, Shakespeare navigates the political minefields that surround his famous figures, with deference to their symbolic significance to an

...

Never one to let the truth get in the way of a good character, Shakespeare navigates the political minefields that surround his famous figures, with deference to their symbolic significance to an Elizabethan audience. Discuss the difference between the bard’s rendering of these characters and the source material, and what this indicates about Elizabethan values. What did Shakespeare really think of the likes of Julius Caesar, Richard III, or Cleopatra? Peel back the layers of anachronism and veiled political satire to find out.


This course is suitable both for first-timers and for well-established lovers of The Bard. Excerpts from the plays will be provided in class each week, however reading (or watching) excerpts from Richard III, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra, would be an asset.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Shakespeare and History. We begin with an overview of Elizabethan understandings and attitudes toward the Romans, and the participants in the English War of the Roses.
  • Richard, the Crooked King. The famous victim of Tudor propaganda, Richard III the ‘hunchback’ is examined against historical reality and the medieval character of Vice.
  • Caesar, the Tyrant. We compare the Elizabethan attitudes about monarchy and democracy and the political tensions between Essex and Elizabeth which shape Shakespeare’s Caesar.
  • Brutus, the Most Noble Roman. In this class, we discover why Shakespeare undercuts Plutarch’s glowing account of Brutus to make him dangerously naïve.
  • The Rebranding of Marc Antony. Depicted by Plutarch as a drunk womaniser, Shakespeare deliberately renders a more sympathetic view of Antony.
  • Cleopatra. She lived as an exotic seductress in the Renaissance imagination, but Shakespeare reimagines her with sympathy and forever changes the popular narrative of her suicide.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Assess the ways Elizabethan/Jacobean values and politics influenced Shakespeare.
  2. Identify anachronism and deviations from source material in the plays.
  3. Consider the implications of bias in shaping historical characters and narratives.
  4. Describe the literary significance of Shakespeare' s creations to the popular imagination.
  5. Perform close passage readings of excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays.