The course tours four cosmopolitan cities—Venice, London, Athens, and Rome—and one continent—the Americas—that fascinated Shakespeare throughout his career. We will read one play set in each locale and also look at the stories, objects, and artworks through which Shakespeare would have known these places. We will also examine some modern adaptations of the plays to see how their settings continue to resonate with contemporary artists and audiences. Along the way, we will look at Shakespeare's persistent interest in cultural aliens and exiles, "others" who must learn to negotiate the norms of the place they reside. We will see how "all the world's a stage" in these settings, for Shakespeare calls attention to the theatrical ways in which these "others" are controlled—and resist that control—through disguise and dissimulation, watching and spying, and performance and impersonation. Texts will include The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Timon of Athens, and Henry IV part 1.
First-year students require permission of the instructor. (Not offered Fall 2014.)