April 6 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 21 Friday 4/3/2020 Messengers

We continue with Act II.  The treaty between Pompey and the Triumvirate.  Cleopatra and the messenger who reports Antony's marriage.  I should have said that her relation to the messenger is a version of the third person imperative force of the play: she demands what can't be demanded, that the truth be different from what it is.

April 1 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 20 Tuesday 3-31-20 She did make defect perfection (Continuing Act II)

News for Pompey.  Characterization of Antony in his absence, again.  Delicate negotiations.  Octavia.  Enorbarbus predicts what Antony will do: his amazing description of Cleopatra.  Antony confirms that he'll go back to Alexandria. 

March 27 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 19 Friday 3-27-20 Act I concluded

Cleopatra's character.  Antony and Cleopatra as, essentially, the one life-affirming tragedy: the tragedy that does what comedies do.  "Strong as death is love."  Versions of the verb "to bear." Jokes at Mardian's expense.  Apostrophes to Antony.  How they are together in separation.  What I didn't quite say is that Rome and Alexandria are established as social spaces, while Antony is between them and so gone during the period of his transition from one to the other,.  More uses of the word where: Where is Antony? Where he is asking, Where is Cleopatra?

March 22 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 18 Friday 3-20-20 Antony and Cleopatra Act I continued

We continue our close reading, especially of the clash of mood or tone between characters in scenes 2 and 3, in the way Shakespeare is representing people trying to set the dominant mood of the scene: Antony and Enobarbus, and then Antony and Cleopatra.  Some attention to the extremely subtle foreshadowing and creation of perspective in those scenes.  Similarities and differences between Antony's relation to Enobarbus and his relation to Cleopatra.  

March 18 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 17. Antony and Cleopatra 2.1: the soothsayer and Cleopatra’s women

Since we're now online, and since it is Antony and Cleopatra, we're going to go through the play scene by scene.  Here we looked at the clash of tonalities between the soothsayer and Cleopatra's women, in 2.1, and also the way Antony treats the messengers from Rome.  

March 14 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 16 Being Mark Antony

First class on Zoom.  I recorded the class as though in class but I was sitting at my computer.  That means there's more me and less them, alas. 

Anyhow: we talked about being Mark Antony (cf. Being John Malkovich) and the odd phrase "an Antony."  Comparing that to the king's two bodies.  And we talked about time frames again: how Octavian is always the age he is at the beginning, and Antony and Cleopatra always the ages they are at the end.

March 11 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 15, 3-10-20 Ages of the characters — Shakespeare’s temporal preferences

After a 15 minute discussion of Covid-19 (not recorded here) we talk about the actual ages of various characters, and the ages that Shakespeare wanted them to be: not only in A & C but in Richard II1 Henry IV and the romances: the idea that you can go from the start of adulthood (Octavius) to the maturity that makes you fit for tragedy and old enough to have lived long enough (Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra) within 16-18 years or so.  Shakespeare's highly skillful stage setting in scene 1.  Too all over the place, but I am hoping that if classes aren't canceled as they're being at many of our sister institutions, we'll settle down in to focused discussion.

March 7 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 14 3/6/2020 Opening of Antony and Cleopatra

We finally really begin Antony and Cleopatra, discussing Plutarch's interest in character, and Shakespeare's, and what makes a tragic character interesting since we know what the plot will be.  Aristotle on pity and terror again: usually the protagonist or main is someone innocent or at worst someone like ourselves: not so in Macbeth.  After which we start analyzing the opening scene, with comparisons to Lear and to Hamlet as well (on the quantification of love).  Many corny jokes.

March 4 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 13 - March 3, 2020 Last class on Macbeth: sonnets and then “My way of life is fallen….”

 A class where we finally talk about the whole soliloquy, with which I am obsessed, in which Macbeth calls or Seyton and considers how his way of life is fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf."  We get there by means of Sonnet 12, but that means talking about the sonnets: first the nature of sonnet sequences from Petrarch through Wyatt to Sidney and Shakespeare, then of course (via Wyatt) about Tottel's miscellany, and then a discussion of Sonnet 73 and its echoes of Macbeth's soliloquy, and ultimately about the nature of interruption, here as well as in Lear:

Prithee, go in thyself: seek thine own ease:

This tempest will not give me leave to ponder

On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.


To the Fool

In, boy; go first. You houseless poverty,--

Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.

Fool goes in


Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,

That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you

From seasons such as these? 


Macbeth interrupts himself to call for his last loyal servant; Lear to dismiss him.

February 28 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 12 Feb 28 2020 Poetic form and Yes Fear ShakeFear

A class which turned out to be a lot on verse drama, and how and why it works, partly based on Evelyn Tribble's ideas about "fluent forgetting" (which I mentioned before) in her book Cognition in the Globe.  Lots of stuff on proto-Indo-European and on how poetic lines work: "loose onsets, strict endings."  How Shakespeare makes us focus on particular words but also justifies that focus.  Hint: rhyme.  We finally get to talking about 5.3, and to Shakespeare's bad Dad pun on Macbeth's refusal to "shake with fear."  Antony and Cleopatra officially starts next week, but we'll have one more day on Act V of Macbeth.

February 25 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 11 2/25/20 Interiorizing time

A class which first is about Protestantism and Catholicism in Shakespeare, and the idea in Protestantism that theological issues take on a psychological air.  That is, they are interiorized.  Then a digressive account of time in Shakespeare (and many others, including Ashbery and Kafka), with the idea being that as you get older -- as the Macbeths get older -- time is interiorized.

February 18 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 10 Class of 2/14/20

A class on doubling, literal and metaphorical, e.g. Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff, Hecate, etc.  The meaning of doubling.  The conglomeration and dissolution of social groups.  Simmel (of course!) on spatial relations as both the condition and the symbol of human relations.  The quickness of friends (in anticipation of Antony and Cleopatra).  Miscellaneous digressions, not all my fault.

February 12 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 9 2/11/20: Remorse and repentance

We start with Coleridge's insight (followed by Bloom) that Macbeth confuses his own pangs of conscience with imaginative fear.  Then some discussion of remorse vs. repentance as analogous to that confusion.  A couple of jokes, and then a close reading of the line "Which of you have done this" when Macbeth sees Banquo.

February 7 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 8 2/7/20 Being a character and daemonization

A class I actually liked some of: on daemonization (Lionel Abel's term in his article "Daemons true and false") and character.  How the most practical matters of representing character on stage (what we hear about Macbeth vs. what we see) give insight into the deepest existential-psychological.  This is me essentially trying to turn aspects of Macbeth into L'attente l'oubli. With digressions and a digression on digressions.

February 5 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 7 2/4/20 Friendship and love in Shakespeare

A student brings up Banquo and tries to relate the line of kings to the edge of doom to Dante's Inferno.  Which leads to a discussion of Banquo and the more general tension in Shakespeare between friendship and love, solved in the comedies but always part of the loss in the tragedies.  Considerations of this issue in Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, King Lear, and of course Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.

January 31 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 6 1/31/20 — witches and soothsayers and messengers o my

Mainly about witches: Reginald Scott's skepticism, James's motivated belief in them, the King's touch, the relation of witches to the soothsayer in A&C (vs. the one in JC), and some attention (again, as in other courses) to Dan Decker's Anatomy of a Screenplay and the insights it affords into Shakespeare's construction of scenes: the way soothsayers and messengers are similar and the way they differ.  At the end a brief consideration of what De Quincey means by sympathy.

January 29 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 5 1/28/20 De Quincey Knocking at the Gate

Elements in Macbeth that were more or less likely to come from elsewhere.  Who played whom.  Robert Armin (and Will Kemp).  Johnson on whether the reference to Antony and Cleopatra (Macbeth's genius overmatched by Banquo's as Antony's is by Caesar) is an interpolation.  De Quincey on the knocking at the gate, and the effect that the juxtaposition of scenes has.

January 25 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 4 Friday 1/24/19 — knocking at the gate, &c

Holinshed, Knocking at the gate, Banquo, self-fulfilling prophecies, as psychological and causal, subjectivity: who in the story is the story for?  Who is real in the story?

January 21 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 3 1/21/20: Macbeth, conflict, Coleridge on puns

Coleridge on puns in Shakespeare.  Aristotelean unities and how Shakespeare violates them.  Doctor Johnson's bad conjectural emendation.  The great line he wishes to emend: "Time and the hour runs through the roughest day."

January 19 2020

Advanced Shakespeare 2 1/17/20

Why editors change the originals -- canonical words and lines, as we now know them. Theobald on Autumn/Antonie.  Theobald on "this bank and shoal of time"

January 15 2020

Advanced Shakespeare Episode 1 1/14/20

Introductory class in this course on Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.  Punning and equivocation.

May 11 2019

Early Romantics XXVII 5-10-19 LONG Last class on Coleridge

A long class, chiefly on Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Kahn.  I think I realized some things about the latter worth realizing.  (N.B. I repeat a mistake I made earlier: the apparently supernatural episode that isn't isn't in "Michael," as I misremembered, but in "Peter Bell.")

May 4 2019

Early Romantics XXVI Climbing Mt. Snowdon in Prelude XIII

We complete our discussion of the Prelude by looking at the Snowdon scene in Book XIII, with a lot of comparison to the unfortunate and enfeebling revisions Wordsworth made in Book XIV of the 1850 version.  One student reads Oppen's "The Forms of Love" as a kind of pendant to the Snowdon scene.  I notice a bunch of things that I don't think I ever did before a connection to King Lear for example, and something about Wordsworth's prosody in the 1805 version.  

May 2 2019

Imagining Money XXXVII Wed 5-1-19 Last class: managing desire

A little about Hurston's "Gilded Six Bits," and a lot about management of desire.  Newcomb's proposed as something to think about at the end.

May 1 2019

Early Romantics XXV 4-29-19 — The Prelude and Wordsworth in general

The structure of The Prelude.  The amazing way, in Wordsworth, that we get to now in the absence of some connection to then.  The way then is always retrospective.  The spots of time.

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