Shakespeare & Popular Culture

In his introductory poem in the First Folio, Ben Jonson wrote that Shakespeare “was not of an age, but for all time!” In this course, we will explore how the purveyors of popular culture have ensured Shakespeare’s longevity by adjusting his works to suit new genres, new social constructions, and new aesthetic tastes. We will consider the following questions: How have Shakespearean texts been manipulated to suit the needs of artists and audiences over the centuries? Are Shakespeare’s plays “universal” in their appeal? In what ways might pop culture adaptations be less about the “greatness” of Shakespeare and more about the sociocultural values of the times and places in which they are created? In addition to selected Shakespeare plays, our texts will include musical scores, films, artwork and visual designs, and live performances. This course requires a field trip to the American Player’s Theater; in addition to books, students should budget for a course materials fee of $25.