Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)


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Return to Book Page. Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox by Peter G. Exploring Shakespeare's intellectual interest in placing both characters and audiences in a state of uncertainty, mystery, and doubt, this book interrogates the use of paradox in Shakespeare's plays and in performance. By adopting this discourse-one in which opposites can co-exist and perspectives can be altered, and one that asks accepted opinions, beliefs, and truths to Exploring Shakespeare's intellectual interest in placing both characters and audiences in a state of uncertainty, mystery, and doubt, this book interrogates the use of paradox in Shakespeare's plays and in performance.

By adopting this discourse-one in which opposites can co-exist and perspectives can be altered, and one that asks accepted opinions, beliefs, and truths to be reconsidered-Shakespeare used paradox to question love, gender, knowledge, and truth from multiple perspectives. Committed to situating literature within the larger culture, Peter Platt begins by examining the Renaissance culture of paradox in both the classical and Christian traditions.

He then looks at selected plays in terms of paradox, including the geographical site of Venice in Othello and The Merchant of Venice, and equity law in The Comedy of Errors, Merchant, and Measure for Measure. In showing that Shakespeare's plays create and are created by a culture of paradox, Platt offers an exciting and innovative investigation of Shakespeare's cognitive and affective power over his audience. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published February 17th by Routledge first published December 1st More Details Original Title.

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Category Archives: Early Modern and Shakespeare

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Paul Cantor on Shakespeare and Politics (Part I)

Be the first to ask a question about Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Did people imagine the possibility of non-human agency in the early modern period? How did Europeans and others read nature in colonial contexts? Our discussion of value will be developed in relation to environmental ethics.

Of all the different ways of writing, pastoral may be the most versatile—and most misunderstood and overlooked. In fact, pastoral can take nearly any shape: a play, a lyric poem, an epic, a novel, or even a film. In this course we will be tracing this remarkable mode of writing from its earliest beginnings to its height in the Renaissance and 18th century, while also considering how it is still very much at work in the world today.

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If this course is used to fulfill the Shakespeare requirement for English major, it cannot also be used as an upper-division English elective. Together with lecture and discussion groups, each play will include a day of performance workshop, where we enact the texts reading aloud from the book and imagine ways to block and costume scenes.

Requirements include attendance and participation, a midterm and final exam, a paper and a final project based on the performance workshops. What is the novel? What distinguishes it from other forms of literature? When did it arise and why? And why did Johnson see it as potentially so dangerous? In an attempt to answer these questions, we will read several English novels considered by many critics to be representative of the genre in its infancy. In addition, we will read and discuss several prominent theories about the genre from the twentieth century and contemporary to the rise of the novel.

In our discussions and papers, we will evaluate these theories and develop some of our own. We will pay particular attention to issues of gender in early novels and to how the experience of women is represented.

The longer papers will be to words in length. Prompts will be provided, though students are also encouraged to develop their own paper topics. Students will also be responsible for writing two responses per week of words in length. Students will post these responses online at the course website in Gaucho Space. Although these responses will not be as formal as the papers, I do expect them to engage thoughtfully with the texts and with the issues raised in class.

I will provide questions every week to guide student responses and weekly feedback to each student. This play will provide a way to tie the course together through investigating the distinctions, commonalities, and ambiguities in the relationship between elite and popular culture. A short paper and a longer paper will allow students to hone their critical writing skills. Film and audio clips will be used as illustrations. The course is suitable both for majors and for non-majors interested in Shakespeare.

Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox : Peter G. Platt :

Written work: quizzes on each play, two papers, and a final exam. Requirements: careful reading, regular attendance, active participation, two analytical papers, and a final exam. ENGL 10EM Introduction to Literary Study Examining the poetry, prose, and drama of the Early Modern Period in England, this course will explore the 16th and 17th century understanding of nature, a period in which pastoral literature flourished. As English writers increasingly set their works in rural landscapes, did their understanding of nature evolve? Did it mean any one thing? Was it simply a convenient site onto which a culture could project idealized and lost values that contrasted with the vices and insecurities of early modern life?

Or did it serve other cultural fantasies? In the desire to return more fundamentally to this sense of nature, which their literature suggests, was there any way of getting back to nature? Finally, as science advanced in the early seventeenth century, mapping out a project for knowing nature, what new meanings did nature acquire?

Requirements: careful reading, regular attendance, active participation, two analytical papers, a midterm exam, and a final exam. Our collective readings emphasize eighteenth- and later twentieth-century novels, including works by Austen, Goethe, Hoffmann, James, Choderlos de Laclos, Lydia Davis, Pynchon. But he also wrote several poems about women in love, including Eloisa to Abelard , and female personification and the female Muses of poetry figure prominently in nearly all of his poetry.

Introduces techniques and vocabulary of analytic discussion and critical writing. Emphasis is on early modern studies. ENGL 10EM Introduction to Literature: Memory and Early Modern Studies The purpose of English 10, or Introduction to Literary Study, is to familiarize you with the tools of literary interpretation, including the techniques and vocabulary of analytic discussion and critical writing, and to help you develop close reading skills.

While cultivating these techniques, the class will focus equally on poetry, drama, and prose fiction.

Dramaturg, Comedy of Errors, Coriolanus, Henry VI Pt. 1, Two Noble Kinsmen

The theme of this particular course is Memory; we will focus on the many implications and meanings of memory and its relationship to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Why is the concept of memory so important to us? In addition to exploring these works in their historical contexts, we will also examine issues of gender, sexuality, race, empire, and class. This course is recommended for students interested in doing a future Early Modern specialization.

English 10 is required for all English majors and recommended for English minors. This course satisfies the last half of the GE Area A requirement. The course will require timely reading, regular attendance, active participation, two 5-to-6 page papers, and a comprehensive final examination. The organizing thread of this course, and the selection of texts to be studied, vary from quarter to quarter. Can be used for the Early Modern specialization.

Do natural entities have rights? Are there non-human forms of agency? Starting with the story of the Golden Spruce, a year-old genetically unique specimen destroyed in by an ex-logger fighting against clearcutting, we trace the modern conflict of preservation and productivity in 18th-c.

Our study of these texts will be driven by questions concerning the rise of science and the desire to master nature; the economics of labor; the rationalization of the state; and the impact of the discovery of the new world on the cultural imagination of Europe. Readings will include an assortment of poetry, nonfiction essays, short prose and two plays, Dr. Faustus and The Alchemist. Work for the course consists of two essays and a final exam, in addition to other in-class assignments. Throughout the quarter we will be considering just what these texts can tell us about the cultures that produced them, especially their attitudes toward gender, politics, religion, and the environment.

Similarly, does the Dream of the Rood , which is—quite remarkably—told in part from the perspective of a tree, tell us anything about how nature and the natural world was imagined? For more information please refer to the course website. Pirates, highwaymen, thieves, prison breakers, thief takers, prostitutes, and bawds are amongst its liveliest characters.

In London, spaces associated with crime, such as Tyburn, Covent Garden, the Fleet Prison, and Spitalfields, were used to figure the city itself; outside the metropolis, criminal behavior enabled mercantile and colonial endeavors to flourish. This course will examine representations of eighteenth-century crime both as an abuse of civil society and as a means of achieving liberation from economic, political, and social oppression. We will be focusing on contemporary texts in less familiar genres: ballads, short fiction, criminal biographies, newspaper reports, and periodical publications.

In addition, we will be consulting modern critical work on crime in eighteenth-century society by E. In the first weeks of the course, we will situate ballads within their historical, political, social, and aesthetic contexts. We will read a sampling of ballads of the period together with critical works about them, and consider the kinds of persons who wrote and published ballads, as well as the nature of ballad music tunes and refrains , formal features of the ballads woodblock images, black-letter print, meter , practices of circulation, and some recurrent themes popular in the period: for example, monstrous happening and husband murder.

We will then focus on the collection of over 1, ballads made by Samuel Pepys, reading and analyzing a selection of ballads from each of the various categories by which Pepys grouped his collection History, Love Fortunate, Love Unfortunate, Drinking and Good Fellowship, etc. ENGL Upper-Division Seminar: Jane Austen and the Rise of the Novel Of all the great novelists of the English literature tradition from Samuel Richardson to Charles Dickens to Henry James Jane Austen has recently been recognized as the most popular and most influential British novelist of the age when the novel was the most influential form of print entertainment and art Her novels helped to establish the novel form as the definitive way the 19th century brought social reality into language so that it could be the locus of both intellectual analysis and narrative enjoyment.

To develop this new technology of narrative, Austen drew on novelistic genres she inherited from the 18th century: most notably the gothic, the sentimental, and the novel of conduct. We will consider how Sense and Sensibility allows readers to understand the pleasures and dangers of postal communication; how Pride and Prejudice develops an enlightenment program for overcoming prejudice and educating desire; and finally, how Emma allows a rethinking of ideals of both femininity and masculinity.

Crucial to the course will be the use of on-line databases of original 18th and early 19th century pamphlets, newspapers, review, conduct books, etc. This archive research will be brought into a final paper, that will focus on one of the three novels discussed in the seminar. Requirements: regular attendance; seminar presentation of 15 minutes ; a short 2-page paper; a final page paper. ENGL 10EM Introduction to Literary Study: Early Modern The purpose of English 10, or Introduction to Literary Study, is to familiarize you with the tools of literary interpretation, including the techniques and vocabulary of analytic discussion and critical writing, and to help you develop close reading skills.

While cultivating these techniques, the class will focus on poetry, drama, and prose fiction. The theme of this particular course is Memory; we will focus on the many implications and meanings of memory and its relationship to the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries. We will examine mainly canonical texts and consider the differences between remembering people, remembering places, and remembering texts.

In addition to exploring these works in their historical contexts, we will also examine issues of gender, sexuality, race, and class. Finally we will study how the communications protocols developed in the revolutionary period, which valued media that was distributed, open, public, and free, were incorporated into the official media policy of the American Republic. Ideology: The core idea of the American Revolution is liberty. In the centuries since the American Revolution, liberty has been given numberless extensions and a daunting variety of roles.

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Liberty is often seen as the means, the end, and the chief virtue of American culture. It has been used to claim the natural rights of women and black slaves. But, more problematically, the claim to liberty has also been used to justify the conquest of the West and the invasion of other countries. Through a reading of some of the founding documents of this country, we will seek to analyze and specify this complex and multi-faceted concept.

In order to gain a useful preliminary understanding of the American Revolution, we will read a short but authoritative book, entitled The American Revolution , by Gordon Wood. Because of the persistence of the American Revolution in later epoch, we will be exploring modern media culture for analogs of 18th century American events. For example, we will discuss how the Vietnam War and the Iraq war have been justified through appeal to liberty and freedom.

Requirements: one short in class presentation; a quiz, a midterm, a paper that links some aspect of the American Revolution to the present and a final exam. While we will do the close readings of complex texts found in many of our English courses, we will also develop an historical and media studies approach to these texts that will be quite different than many English department courses.


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Milton, John. Areopagitica , selections Locke, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennyslvania. Encyclopedia article on Public Sphere. Wood, Gordon. The American Revolution Addison, Joseph. Cato Paine, Thomas. Arguably the most important novel in the history of the genre, it chronicles the struggles of its virtuous heroine: Clarissa is trapped between her family, who order her to marry the odious Mr.

Solmes, and her admirer, the rake Lovelace, who concocts elaborate schemes to posses her. At pages long, it is not a text for the faint-hearted; but for its stunning display of artistic innovation, ventriloquism, and historical detail, it richly rewards the persistent reader. Requirements: attendance, reading comprehension quizzes, one calendar exercise, and one term-long individual writing project. Midterm, final, and term paper. Nonetheless, air pollution, acid rain, deforestation, endangered species, wetland loss, animal rights, and rampant consumerism were all issues of great concern in Renaissance England.

Just for fun, we will also be looking at excerpts from two very popular series of books that were profoundly influenced by Milton: The Chronicles of Narnia by C. We also read selected criticism on Paradise Lost. Required work: midterm, term paper, final, and possible group presentation.

We will then spend a week on each of them with a final week for a mini-conference on the papers you will by then be writing. In addition to the term paper, there will be very brief position papers each week on the play for that week and a 90 minute final exam. Written work: quizes on each play, two papers, and a final exam. In addition to paying close attention to literary form, we will concentrate on relating medieval and early modern poetic, dramatic, and prose texts to the historical contexts in which they were written.

ENGL Milton Milton wrote his major poems to provide readers with imaginative experiences through which they would come to know themselves and God aright, and thereby acquire the moral and political knowledge, the virtue, and the wisdom that would secure them inner freedom, outward liberty, and an understanding of the sources of their own happiness and misery. The class will be conducted largely as a workshop in which we interrogate the texts and our readings of them and work on passages and scenes that puzzle and confuse us.

How did these imagined worlds reflect, refract, or simply disregard the real world that readers of romance inhabited? In this course we will read a selection of romances, focusing primarily but not exclusively on the forms the genre takes in early modern England. Our goal will be to attend to the kinds of cultural work that the genre of romance performs. Topics of discussion will include the functions of genre; the power of nostalgia; the politics of gender; the ethics of representing violence; and the problem of justice.

The course will require timely reading, regular attendance, active participation, two five-to-six page papers, and a comprehensive final examination.


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Midterm, Term Paper, Group presentations, and Final. Video productions will supplement lectures and discussion as a way of understanding the dramatic character and values of the plays. Students can expect to write two essays, a midterm and a final exam. ENGL English Broadside Ballads, We will study the culture of the most published and most read of literary forms in early modern England: the broadside ballad.

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In the first half of the course, we will situate ballads within their historical, political, social, and aesthetic contexts. We will read a sampling of ballads of the period together with critical works about them, and consider the kinds of persons who wrote and published ballads, as well as the nature of ballad music tunes and refrains , formal features of the ballads woodblock images, blackletter print, meter , practices of circulation, and some recurrent themes popular in the period. In the second half of the course, we shall enter workshop mode, focusing on reading, analyzing, and mounting online annotated transcriptions of some of the 1, ballads in the important Samuel Pepys collection.

Assignments: Two oral and written reports on a facet of ballad culture generally and on a ballad theme in the Pepys collection minutes; pages each as well as online annotated transcriptions of two Pepys ballads. Two weeks will be devoted to each play. Course requirements will include multiple short papers on assigned topics and a final exam. To enroll in and to obtain credit for this course, register for AND attend a section! All Italian, Spanish, and French texts will be available in both their original language and English translation.

This course is also being offered as Comparative Literature While we will focus our study on four major novels, written between and , we will also read some of the most influential accounts of the novel from 18th and modern critics Diderot, S. Johnson, Bakhtin, etc. Requirements: one short 4-page paper as the basis of a seminar presentation ; one page term paper.

Midterm, term paper, and final. ENGL Studies in the Enlightenment: The American Revolution This course will range widely across a range of texts essential for understanding the political and cultural event named the American Revolution.

Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama) Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)
Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama) Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)
Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama) Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)
Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama) Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)
Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama) Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)
Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama) Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)
Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama) Shakespeare and the Culture of Paradox (Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama)

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