CONTROVERSIES IN CRITICISM is the capstone course for the English major. This version of the course considers a range of Shakespearean plays and poems with attendant critical essays. We will give our readings direction and shape by reading for representations of desire in Shakespeare’s work. In particular, we will identify Shakespeare’s career-long preoccupation with what we will call (following prominent gender critics) queer desire. The ways in which Shakespeare directs readers (or viewers) toward the pleasures, challenges, misfires, and disasters that attend the rich tapestry ofhuman desire accounts, at least in part, for his enduring popularity.
We will ask questions that prompt an investigation into how Shakespeare's plays evoke,construct, and critique the work of desire in social contexts. Why do the plays continually invite a consideration of desire? Does Shakespeare suggest that conflicts between individual desires and social mandates are inevitable? What difference does it make to talk about desire in terms of the performed as opposed to the written text? Which desires exceed reason? When is desire a matter of the body, and when is it a matter of intellect, spirit, or rhetoric? In what sense does it matter?
~ gain fluency in reading, interpreting, and discussing desire in Shakespeare's works
~ consider the question of desire in literature as scholars have understood it
~ acquire advanced terms and techniques for analyzing sexuality and gender
~ practice close reading, research skills, and written analysis at an advanced level
Two Gentlemen of Verona | The Merchant of Venice | Othello | Twelfth Night | The Winter's Tale
Course Packet: Essays in Queer Theory and Shakespeare
FALL, 2013 | MW 2:15-3:30 | Heide 203