Readings in Shakespeare

L625 — Fall 2020

Joan Pong Linton
Days and Times
9:30a - 10:45a TR (4 CR)
Course Description

Topic: (In)hospitality: Shakespeare and the Custom of Virtue

A long-standing topic of interest for Shakespeare scholars, the problematics of hospitality has seen a recent surge in publications from diverse articles to anthologies like Shakespeare and Hospitality and Shakespeare and Immigration. This surge of interest that warrants focused attention, especially when it comes to addressing hospitality in practice, one can say that it is “a custom more honor'd in the breach than the observance,” to borrow from the critic-prince Hamlet.  In reading a selection of poetry and plays, this course will explore a range of relational tensions built into practices of hospitality—those between host and guest, host and hostess, have and have not, citizen and stranger, humans and the natural world. Relational tensions prompt inquiry that brings on board a number of critical frames, from political theology and economy to the poetics of affects and cognition, to migration and cosmopolitanism, to ecology and the posthuman. Where appropriate, this inquiry will engage theorists on hospitality, including writings by Arendt, Aristotle, Butler, Derrida, Kant, Levinas, and Tracy McNulty.


Primary readings may include the sonnets, Twelfth Night, Timon of Athens, King Lear, and other texts to be negotiated among course participants. Discussion of the plays will also address adaptations and performances by way of making legible the relevance of the Shakespeare’s plays—and the Humanities—to ongoing and emerging problems in our communities local and global. Finally, with oblique reference to William Bennett’s Book of Virtue (1996), the course subtitle “custom of virtue” asks how Shakespeare might factor into an aesthetic education that can do justice to pressing concerns of hospitality today.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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