With his successful plays on historical English kings, Shakespeare contributed not only to the spread of historical knowledge, but also to the evaluation of the qualities of rulership and of human agency in the larger context of politics. The images of certain English kings were significantly shaped by such representations not only for Shakespeare's contemporaries but also for subsequent centuries. Dealing rather freely with historiographical sources – which were not necessarily unbiased themselves – Shakespeare re-modelled historical characters and events considerably for dramatic effect and interpretation. He presented the rulers not only with a view to the – sometimes precarious – claims to power of the dynasties they belonged to, but also with a consideration of the more private aspects, showing them as entangled in family affairs and relationships, driven by personal needs and anxieties.
In this class we will read closely four of Shakespeare's histories, exploring these issues: King John, King Richard II, King Richard III, and King Henry V.
Teilnahmevoraussetzungen, notwendige Vorkenntnisse
Participants are expected to be familiar with the basic concepts of drama analysis, i.e., they ought to have completed the "Analysis and Interpretation of Literary Texts (British Literature" class before registration for this class. It will be helpful if students have also attended the "British History" course.
All participants must reserve reading time in their weekly schedule during the semester. If you cannot do that, please to NOT register for this class.
Participants are expected to be in possession of a good scholarly edition of each of the four plays, e.g. from one of the following series: The Arden Shakespeare, The Oxford Shakespeare (in the Oxford World's Classics series), or The New Cambridge Shakespeare):
King Richard II
King Richard III
King Henry V
While Kindle editions of these versions are acceptable, I strongly advise to refrain from using online versions of the texts. (Believe me, the money is well spent on a scholarly edition!)
It makes sense to start reading before the semester begins.