Saints, Witches, and Queens: Depictions of Medieval Women in Historical Drama

Do you enjoy the dynastic power struggles of Game of Thrones? Do you love the sometimes accurate sensual politics of Reign? Did you think the scope of the epic Hollow Crown was impressive? If the answer is yes, then this might be the course for you. We will be examining the ways in which playwrights, especially those from the time of Shakespeare, depict medieval women and their involvement in matters of war, state, and familial politics. Our readings will be paired
with historical documents to investigate how playwrights use both their source materials and their contemporary social and political environments in their characterizations of these women. At the heart of our study will be Shakespeare’s War of the Roses plays in which you will meet fiery Joan of Arc, devilish Margaret of Anjou, easily persuaded Anne Neville, and the practical Elizabeth of Woodville. Along the way, we will explore larger questions about how our own contemporary arts and popular culture depict medieval women and what that might tell us about our own political agendas and gender constructs. This course will include regular meetings with Professor Mockridge’s course “Bachelorettes and Wives: Medieval Women in Love and Marriage.”