The Issue of Succession: Shakespeare's History Plays -Kingship under Elizabeth I

Using the sequence of history plays from Richard II through Henry IV, Parts I and II, to Henry V, the course will investigate, among other topics, the changing view of kingship in these plays, discuss the role of the theater in English politics under Queen Elizabeth I, and Shakespeare’s careful yet critical presentation of the central question of Elizabeth’s reign: What happens to the realm if there is no heir? We also shall revel in and interpretatively explore some of the most glorious speeches and engaging characters in Shakespeare’s canon, which reveal the inner tensions of the time and the difficult transition of ruler and realm from the Middle Ages to early modern times.

Instructor: Herbert A. Arnold

FIVE MONDAYS: March 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 4:30-6p.m.
Herbert A. Arnold
HERBERT A. ARNOLD is professor of German and letters emeritus. After more than 40 years of teaching at Wesleyan, including in the MAT and GLSP programs, he is revisiting some of his early research interests, including the European Baroque era, and continuing work on a biographical-historical investigation of central European history in the 20th century. Most of his work in the past has centered on the intersection between history and literature in a pan-European context, and his publications range in time and subject matter from late 15th-century manuscripts to contemporary popular culture.