Fridays, 1:00-2:30 p.m. 8-week course begins 3/19
Shakespeare’s last plays, in their juxtaposition of dehumanizing aristocratic values and alternative conceptions of humanity that seek the common good and dignify productive labor, increasingly ask: “How are we human?” These tragicomedies converge in remarkable detail with quasi-republican currents among Puritan activists and with a related impulse within England’s earliest American colonial projects, where Captain John Smith became a standard-bearer in the sharpening culture clash. Comparison of The Tempest, Smith’s popular writings, and an influential preacher’s sermonizing reveals a common, America-focused, republican ideal. With an equal focus on history and drama, this course asks: “Shakespeare, are you a Founding Father?” Required Reading: William Shakespeare, The Tempest in any edition. Richard Welsh studied biology, psychology, and biological anthropology at Swarthmore and Cornell before turning to politics and issues advocacy. He split his time between administration and feature journalism, and eventually embarked on the 22-year project behind this course. Amateur acting along the way revived an earlier love affair with Shakespeare.