Richard, Falstaff, and Prince Hal: Shakespeare’s Tragi-Histories Spring 2019
(Richard, Falstaff, and Prince Hal: Shakespeare’s Tragi-Histories Spring 2019)

In this course we will read William Shakespeare’s history plays that have more than a whiff of tragedy. Our explorations in Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and other plays, will concern power, power in governance and how that may come into “play” with loyalty, friendship, and love. We’ll ask ourselves who actually can be said to hold -- or to have held -- the power in a play, a fiction? After all, the playwright constructs plot, character, image, diction...everything so as to exercise a power over us. And we must exercise the powers of attention, of understanding. What are the conditions and preconditions of acting truly and acting falsely in the pursuit and exercise of any type or degree of power? And, as accounted for in and by means of these plays, what does power seem actually to be? That is the question.