New Course: Political Shakespeare

Dr. Esther Schupak will be teaching a new course that will focus on reading Shakespeare's dramas and poetry in a political context. Of course, in order to arrive at a full understanding of the political aspects of Shakespeare’s work, we need to appreciate the circumstances of censorship that underlay his artistic production. The class will therefore begin by examining Elizabethan and Jacobean censorship and the limits that this practice imposed upon artistic expression, then move on to consider the issue of republicanism in an early modern context, defining and exploring its ideological ramifications and how these manifest in Shakespeare’s works.

Given the limitations of censorship, Rome was often a metaphorical substitute for London, so examining Shakespeare’s Roman dramas opens a space for exploring his ideological leanings. The first part of the course will therefore focus on Shakespeare’s Roman plays and The Rape of Lucrece. Later on in the semester, participants will examine two of Shakespeare’s history plays in order to explore the juxtaposition among monarchical, anti-monarchical, and republican ideologies that critics have debated for centuries.