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Spring 2013 Course Descriptions

English 3892  Shakespeare, Honors

Section 099    CRN 31633
Caldwell
Shakespeare, Honors    0900-0950 MWF

“Such seething brains”: Revenge, Desire, and Fantasy in Shakespeare

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus suggests that there is something very peculiar—and very similar—about the way the poet, the lover, and the madman use their imaginations. In this course we will use some of Shakespeare’s most driven and compelling characters to explore the Renaissance concept of fantasia—what Shakespeare called fancy and what today we might call abnormal psychology. We will seek to understand how fancy intersects with the other major determinants of human behavior: passion, desire, the senses, will, and reason. To do this, we will consider Shakespeare’s plays in the light of his intellectual context, for example by examining short selections of the works of some of Shakespeare’s contemporaries such as Thomas Wright’sPassions of the Mind in General, Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, and Francis Bacon’s essay “Of Revenge” as well as images from early modern printing and art. Course requirements? Enthusiasm, engagement, and an exceptional amount of independent thinking befitting an honors section. You can expect an exam or two and a semester-long research project as well. Questions? Email me.  (Group 3D)