English 190

Research Seminar: Shakespeare: From the Globe to the Global

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2017 Bahr, Stephanie M
MWF 2-3 47 Evans Renaissance and Early Modern
Research Seminars

Book List

Césaire, Aimé: A Tempest; Msomi, Welcome: uMabatha; Sears, Djanet: Harlem Duet; Shakespeare, William: Macbeth; Shakespeare, William: Othello; Shakespeare, William: The Merchant of Venice; Shakespeare, William: The Tempest; Shakespeare, William: Titus Andronicus

Other Readings and Media

Films:Throne of Blood, dir. Akira Kurosawa; Omkara, dir. Vishal Bhardwaj; The MāoriMerchant of Venice, dir. Don Selwin.

A course reader including: Thomas Hariot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia; “Of cannibals,” Michel de Montaigne; The Merchants Advizo; “Hamlet in the Bush,” Laura Bonnanan; “Claudius’s Diary,” Shiga Naoya; “The Robben Island Bible”; selections from Race in Early Modern England: a Documentary Companion, ed. Ania Loomba; selections from A Theory of Adaptation, Linda Hutcheon.

Digital Resource: MIT’s Global Shakespeares Archive (http://globalshakespeares.org/) ed. Alexander Huang and Peter Donaldson.


William Shakespeare's works have been staged all over the world, adapted as films, operas, musicals, ballets, and novels.  They have been transposed into diverse settings, from fascist Italy to the Wild West, medieval Japan to the fictional planet of Altair IV. Writers and artists have blended the works of Shakespeare with an array of global traditions, ranging from Japanese Noh Theater to Korean Opera. Why has Shakespeare captured imaginations so vividly around the world?  Harold Bloom even goes so far as to credit Shakespeare with the very “invention of the human.” Can it be that, as Shakespeare lovers and scholars have often claimed, there’s a universality to The Bard’s genius addressing “the human condition”? Or does the global dissemination and adaptation of Shakespeare engage political and cultural forces that go far beyond the individual brilliance of one Renaissance playwright?  And, if so, what do these cultural intersections mean?

To engage these questions, we will begin with an examination of five Shakespeare plays in their original historical context on the page and on the stage. We will lay the groundwork for interrogating assumptions about the “universality of the human” by paying particular attention to issues of identity, race, and gender in Shakespeare’s works in the early modern context.  We will then expand our view to these plays’ production histories around the world using the video clips, interviews, and reviews on MIT’s Global Shakespeares Archive. And finally we will examine an array of 20th and 21st century works from around the globe that are variously described as “adaptations,” “appropriations,” or “translations” of the plays we’ve studied. If, as some have argued, Shakespeare and the Western canon have been tools of cultural oppression, then how might these adaptations be read as acts of rebellion or liberation? What value have these writers found in Shakespeare’s material?  How do they transform, correct, or reimagine Shakespeare’s works and even the figure of Shakespeare himself?

This section of English 190 satisfies the Shakespeare requirement for the English major.

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Britain in the ‘60s Gang, Joshua
190/2 Research Seminar: The Historical Novel Puckett, Kent
190/3 Research Seminar: Another Day in Purgatory: Irish Literature and the Afterlife Creasy, CFS
190/6 Research Seminar: Literature and Revolution Lee, Steven S.
190/7 Research Seminar: Monsters, Exiles, and Outlaws in Medieval Literature Hobson, Jacob
190/8 Research Seminar: Sixty Years Since: The Historical Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/9 Research Seminar: Historiography and Narrative: Literature and the Interstices of History Jones, Donna V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Suspicious Mind Best, Stephen M.
190/11 Research Seminar: Nonsense Hanson, Kristin
190/12 Research Seminar: Making Memories Yoon, Irene
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia
190/2 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance Wagner, Bryan
190/3 Research Seminar: Literature and the Linguistic Turn Blevins, Jeffrey
190/4 Research Seminar: Jane Austen and the Theory of the Novel Miller, D.A.
190/5 Research Seminar: Writing a World in Crisis: Medieval and Modern Perry, R. D.
190/7 Research Seminar: Place-Love: Fiction and the Melancholy of Form Xin, Wendy Veronica
190/8 Research Seminar: Literatures of the Ocean Sorensen, Janet
190/9 Research Seminar: Beowulf Thornbury, Emily V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Hollywood in the 1930s Knapp, Jeffrey
190/11 Research Seminar: The Literature of Immortality Jones, Donna V.
190/13 Research Seminar: California Literature & Film Since WWI Starr, George A.
Fall, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
190/2 Research Seminar: Slow Seeing / Slow Reading Hejinian, Lyn
190/3 Research Seminar: Moby-Dick, and More Otter, Samuel
190/4 Research Seminar: U.S. Modernism Goble, Mark
190/5 Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
190/6 Research Seminar: The Medium Is the Message: Reading Poetry in Manuscript & Print, 1300-1600 Bahr, Stephanie M
190/7 Research Seminar: Note new topic: Troy and Tragedy Perry, R. D.
190/8 Research Seminar: James / Baldwin Best, Stephen M.
190/9 Research Seminar: On Style Xin, Wendy Veronica
190/10 Research Seminar: Do I Dare? Indecision and Modernist Literature Blevins, Jeffrey
190/11 Research Seminar: Modern California Literature and Film Starr, George A.
190/12 Research Seminar: Modern Utopian and Dystopian Literature and Film Starr, George A.
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Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Sixties Goble, Mark
190/2 Research Seminar: Through a Future Darkly: Global Crisis and the Triumph of Dystopia Danner, Mark
190/3 Research Seminar: Late Henry James Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/4 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia
190/5 Research Seminar: Contemporary British Literature and Culture Falci, Eric
190/6 Research Seminar: Classical and Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey
190/7 Research Seminar: Materiality: How the Physical World Is Made to Mean Flynn, Catherine
190/8 Research Seminar: Vital Texts: Literature and the Discourse of Life Gaydos, Rebecca
190/9 Research Seminar: Medieval and Renaissance Lyric Crosson, Chad Gregory
190/10 Research Seminar: Purcell and Handel: Their Art in Setting English Texts to Music Hanson, Kristin
190/11 Research Seminar Lee, Steven S.
190/12 Research Seminar: Daniel Defoe and the Rise of the 18th-Century Novel Starr, George A.
190/13 Research Seminar: Keats and Literary Tradition Francois, Anne-Lise
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Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Aesthetics and Enlightenment Weiner, Joshua J
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190/2 Research Seminar: Materialism: Ancient and Modern Goldsmith, Steven
190/3 Research Seminar: Henry James and Novelistic Aesthetics Hale, Dorothy J.
190/4 Research Seminar Blanton, C. D.
190/6 Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
190/7 Research Seminar: Ethics and U.S. Fiction Serpell, C. Namwali
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190/9 Research Seminar: Ideology Gonzalez, Marcial
190/10 Research Seminar: Contemporary Native American Fiction Wong, Hertha D. Sweet
190/11 Research Seminar: Poetry and Poetics in the Middle Ages T. B. A.
190/13 Research Seminar: Race and Rumors of Race in American Prose Giscombe, Cecil S.
190/14 Research Seminar: Modern Utopian and Dystopian Books and Movies Starr, George A.
190/15 Research Seminar: Film Noir Bader, Julia
Spring, 2015
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Temporality of Faulkner's Novels Hale, Dorothy J.
190/2 Research Seminar: Metamorphosis, Monsters, and the Supernatural Everyday Danner, Mark
190/4 Research Seminar Gardezi, Nilofar
190/5 Research Seminar: Materialism--Ancient and Modern Goldsmith, Steven
190/6 Research Seminar: Literature and Revolution Lee, Steven S.
190/7 Research Seminar: Toni Morrison Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/8 Research Seminar: Shakespeare’s Versification Hanson, Kristin
190/9 Research Seminar: Mass Entertainment in Classical Hollywood Film Knapp, Jeffrey
190/10 Research Seminar: Utopian and Dystopian Literature and Film Starr, George A.
190/11 Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
190/12 Research Seminar: The Oversexed Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar Miller, D.A.

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