English 224sr. Shakespeare and Racial Justice

Instructor: Marjorie Garber
Day & Time: Tuesday 9:45-11:45am
Course Website
One of the most powerful effects of Shakespeare’s plays is the uncanny way they both reflect and anticipate the concerns of readers and audiences over time. The plays that address questions of racial justice and injustice seem strikingly pertinent now, just as they have at other key moments from the early modern period to the present.

Working with the play-texts, with literary criticism and theory, and with stage history and material culture, this graduate seminar will examine issues of race, justice, performance and resistance as manifested in Shakespearean drama, both historically and in our own time. Plays to be considered include Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest. Our concerns will be with language and character and with a range of theoretical perspectives, as well as with thematic issues and facets of race, including color, religion, humoral theory, and the idea of the stranger. Participants will be invited and encouraged to address both the plays and ongoing current events, reading them together—or against one another—as theatre, criticism, and critique.

Note: Graduate seminar with limited enrollment, admission by permission of instructor. Priority given to FAS Ph.D. students in English, American Studies, Comparative Literature, and African American Studies. All other FAS Ph.D. applicants should indicate their familiarity with Shakespeare. If space in the seminar permits, applications will be considered from English department senior concentrators who have already taken at least one semester of Shakespeare at Harvard.