Spring 2024

Shakespeare: The Comedies

Prereq: none
Units: 3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

We will take our lead from Dr Johnson, a renowned 18th-century writer and composer of the first English Dictionary, who claims that Shakespeare’s natural disposition is comedy, in which he “seems to repose, or to luxuriate, as in a mode of thinking congenial to his nature.” In this course, we will test this statement by contextualizing Shakespeare’s major comedies within a broader framework that includes his so-called “problem” plays as well as city comedies by some of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. We will ground our readings in performance and so the comedies will be paired with filmic realizations that will also allow  us to consider how the plays must be changed and re-interpreted so as to travel across cultural boundaries. Connections may include Twelfth Night and Some Like It Hot; Taming of the Shrew, Kiss Me, Kate, Beware of Eve, and 10 Things I Hate About You; A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Were the World Mine; and Comedy of Errors and Bhranti Bilas.  [Pre-1900]