English 125pc. Shakespeare and Popular Culture

Instructor: Alan Niles
Monday & Wednesday, 12:00-1:15pm | Location: 2 Arrow St 408
Course site

Shakespeare’s plays have always been “popular” in the multiple senses of the word: drawing on a stock cultural repertoire of characters and themes, appealing to mass audiences from the public theater of Shakespeare’s time to the screens of today, and succeeding (and surviving) in a competitive literary marketplace. This course explores these multifaceted aspects of Shakespeare’s “popularity” and the ways the enduring legacy of Shakespeare’s works has depended on complex crossings between their status as “elite” and “popular” culture. Through readings, lectures, and class activities, we will situate Shakespeare’s plays in relation to topics including the social experience of playgoing in Shakespeare’s time; racism, misogyny, and radical politics on the stage; theories of popular culture, mass culture, and subcultures from Shakespeare’s time to the present; Bardolatry and Shakespeare’s long reception history; and Hollywood, Bollywood, and global cinematic appropriations of Shakespeare’s plays today. Readings will include such plays as A Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pericles, Henry VI, Part 2, and more. Prior experience reading Shakespeare may be helpful but is not expected or required.

This course satisfies the English Concentration "Shakespeare" requirement for students on the “Common Ground” curriculum.

This course satisfies the “Pre-1700 Guided Elective" requirement for English concentrators and Secondary Field students.