Once you discover Shakespeare, he can be right at the center of your imagination.
It’s been 400 years since William Shakespeare breathed his last on this earth, ending a monumental career as a playwright and a poet. And while his pen may have ceased, his work has stood the test of time. In fact, if the number of venues producing Shakespeare festivals is any indication, the Bard’s significance just keeps growing.
So what’s the secret to his artistic longevity—the indisputable hold he has on our collective imagination? Four centuries later, why do we still attend both highly professional and drama-club stagings of his plays?
And why are there scores, perhaps hundreds, of book clubs meeting in living rooms and coffee shops to wrangle over why Hamlet can't kill Claudius or whether Titus Andronicus is a horrorfilled revenge play or a laboratory for the author’s subsequent tragedies? (And is Prospero actually the voice of the playwright as he contemplates what it would be like to lay down his pen and return to Stratford?)
Structured like a monthly book club, this course will dig deep into four Shakespearean plays (A Midsummer Night's Dream; Othello; Antony and Cleopatra; and The Winter's Tale) in order to uncover the works’ relevance to their original audiences as well as the audiences of today. Throughout the course, we’ll attempt to answer why Shakespeare still matters.
Required: Participants should come to the first session (September 15) ready to discuss A Midsummer Night's Dream; Othello on October 13; Antony and Cleopatra on November 10), and The Winter's Tale on December 8.
Toni McNaron is professor emerita of English at the University of Minnesota where she was the recipient of five awards for outstanding teaching, including the College of Continuing Education’s Distinguished Educator Award. McNaron is the author of I Dwell in Possibility: A Memoir (The Feminist Press, 2001) and Into the Paradox: Conservative Spirit, Feminist Politics (Hurley Publishing, 2013).