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Literary critic Marjorie Garber argues that “Shakespeare makes modern culture and that modern culture makes Shakespeare.” What does Garber mean by this? Only that Shakespeare has determined what we think of as defining human characteristics—all that we understand as noble and selfish and kind and terrifying about human nature came from Shakespeare. This is kind of a big deal.
So, do we agree? Disagree? Is this a Western idea only, or can it be applied to other cultures? What about societies, such as India, where Shakespeare was forced on the people as a colonizing technique? Is Shakespeare modern, is he still defining human nature? Or is Shakespeare merely (!) a master of defining what it means to be human.
In searching for the answer to this question, we will, of course, read Shakespeare. We will also read short stories, poems, non-fiction, and perhaps a novel or two that directly connects to Shakespeare and his work. We will also watch a Bollywood version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a science fiction version of The Tempest, and watch a live production of Titus Andronicus produced by the UGA Department of Theater and Film.
Possible texts (I’m still working on this):
Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
Shakespeare in Swahililand: In Search of a Global Poet by Edward Wilson-Lee