Shakespeare's Radicals

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Shakespeare's Radicals

<p>How could Shakespeare, who enjoyed both public success and social climbing, be a political radical? In exploring his more explicitly radical, but lesser-known plays, we will piece together what

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How could Shakespeare, who enjoyed both public success and social climbing, be a political radical? In exploring his more explicitly radical, but lesser-known plays, we will piece together what political agenda Shakespeare might have had as a writer. We will locate the spectacle of these radical works in their political context – the role of Richard II in the Essex uprising, the significance of The Tempest as Britain began colonisation. This course is suitable for students new to Shakespeare and long-time lovers of the Bard. Join us as we discover the ‘other’ Shakespeare – the politically active and idealistic advocate for change.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Richard II
  • King John
  • The Tempest
  • The Rape of Lucrece
  • King Lear


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Shakespeare the Radical: We begin with what it means to be politically radical – and revolutionary – during Elizabethan and Jacobean contexts, by touring through moments of politically radical behaviour in Shakespeare’s more familiar plays.
  • Richard II: Queen Elizabeth famously said ‘I am Richard II’ we unpack this most dangerously radical of Shakespeare’s plays in the context of the Essex uprising.
  • King John: We consider the political implications of staging a play about the king whose rule was restrained by Magna Carta.
  • The Tempest: Shakespeare’s sympathetic portrayal of Caliban and critique of European superiority in The Tempest is perhaps the most politically prescient moment in literature.
  • The Rape of Lucrece: Shakespeare’s long poem takes us into the mind of a raped Roman woman whose heroism ultimately overthrows the Tarquins.
  • Edmund the proto-Nietzschean: We finish with an old favourite – the bastard son whose will to power and amorality almost sees him crowned King of England.


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

  1. Knowledgably discuss excerpts from Shakespeare’s less-known plays and long poem.
  2. Identify Elizabethan and Jacobean contextual values about politics and change.
  3. Connect Shakespeare’s ideas to other thinkers like Montaigne, Nietzsche, and Edward Said.