Humanities Seminars Course: Shakespeare's Women

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 - 6:00pm to Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 9:00pm
Room 410 of the Modern Languages Building UA Campus
WEDNESDAYS 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. September 30 - October 28, 2015 (EVENING CLASS!) Please note that this course is NOT held in the Rubel Room in the Poetry Center, but in room # 410 of the Modern Languages Building instead. Convenient parking is available in the Second Street Parking Garage for $5.00 per class. Register here.

Tuition: $135.00

Many of Shakespeare’s most powerful, intelligent, and subversive characters are female. How were such vividly complex roles constructed in a culture that legally defined women as property on the grounds of their intellectual and moral inferiority? Given the early modern imperatives of feminine silence, chastity, and obedience, how is it that women impel Shakespeare’s plots, orchestrate conflicts, and—in many instances— impose “resolutions”?

This course will address the social and historical contexts of Shakespeare's women and how the playwright both generates and subverts his culture’s assumptions about gender. While examining the extraordinary vitality of his female characters, we will ask: What is their relation to the state, the family, the church, political economy, and desire? In short, what is their relation to order and disorder?

Each class will focus on a different play: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello.

Required Reading: 

You may read any unabridged edition of the plays that you already own. Please bring the assigned text to each class meeting, including the first day.

Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Pelican Shakespeare). Penguin Classics, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-0140714555.

---. Romeo and Juliet. (The Pelican Shakespeare). Penguin Classics, 2000.ISBN-13: 978-0140714845.

---. As You Like It. (The Pelican Shakespeare). Penguin Classics, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-0140714715.

---. The Merchant of Venice. (The Pelican Shakespeare). Penguin Classics, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-0140714623.

---. Othello. (The Pelican Shakespeare). Penguin Classics, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0140714630.

MEG LOTA BROWN is Professor of English and Director of the UA Graduate Center. She is the author or editor of three books and has published numerous articles on Reformation politics, Renaissance literature, science, art, gender, theology, and authors from Shakespeare and Donne to Christine de Pizan and Rachel Speght. Dr. Brown has received nearly every major teaching award at the UA, as well as awards for her research, service, and leadership.