Open to freshmen, sophomores and juniors only. Same as ENGL-UA 800.004 and MEDI-UA 996 002.
This course examines Shakespeare’s Mediterranean plays in relation to the cultural and imaginative geography established for this region in the classical, medieval and early Renaissance periods. It also provides a brief introduction to the new field of "ocean studies" and will include some readings in marine environmental studies. We will spend about one third of the class on the Ancient Mediterranean, seen through the lens of comedies by Plautus, Virgil’s Aeneid , and writings by Plutarch, among others. We will consider how the various cultures around the Mediterranean opened emotional, physical, imaginative and political possibilities for Renaissance writers and thinkers, particularly as exemplified in Shakespeare’s plays. Topics for study will include the sea as a space of economic and political possibility and threat, including piracy; the differences created by intermingling gender, genre and diverse geographies; romance and comedy and their relation to travel writing; early map making in relation to other kinds of representation; questions of exoticism, orientalism, and the attraction and fear of the foreign. Along with studying how classical and renaissance writers may imagine the Mediterranean differently, we will consider some representations of religious and cultural divides between the Christian and the Muslim worlds in traveler’s accounts and in literature. Readings will include plays by Plautus, Cervantes and Shakespeare, Vergil’s Aeneid , selections from Boccaccio, Ibn Khaldûn, and Don Quixote.