SoSe 13: S-Surveying English Literatures II: Tragedy and History in Shakespeare
Kai Martin Wiegandt
Tragedy and history are terms used to conveniently sort some of Shakespeare's dramas into categories, but they are also categories of analysis that can help us clarify what is at stake in the plays. ... read more
Tragedy and history are terms used to conveniently sort some of Shakespeare's dramas into categories, but they are also categories of analysis that can help us clarify what is at stake in the plays. What is tragic? And what, in a narrow sense, is historical? Why are Shakespeare's History plays not tragic? Or are they? Beginning with Hegel's discussion of tragedy and a consideration of his philosophy of history, we will draw first distinctions and become familiar with notions of tragedy and history in Shakespeare's time. Titus Andronicus, Richard III, Hamlet, Coriolanus, Henry VI, Part 2 and Henry VIII will be discussed as we assess the changing configurations of fate, fortune, error, interiority and (national) identity and contextualize them in the in early modern English culture.
Participants will read 50+ pages of criticism in addition to the dramas each week (the criticism will be made available on Blackboard). Knowledge of the Bible and familiarity with Greek tragedy will be very helpful. Regular attendance (no more than two missed classes), the writing of response papers and a presentation are obligatory. Credits can be acquired by submitting a paper on a specialised topic. English is spoken in class. Your language skills should be at the C1 level or higher according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Shakespeare, William. The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. S. Greenblatt. New York, London: Norton, 1997.