Engl 235: Topics in Literature and Culture / Engl 355: Studies in British Literature*
with JCB, ACB & the RSC(aka Jennifer Cognard-Black, Andrew Cognard-Black, and the Royal Shakespeare Company)
*Note: both count simultaneously as English courses as well as for the E-LAW CORE Requirement
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death this coming summer, this tour will study Shakespeare in performance in Stratford-upon-Avon, England and will be focused on the theme of “Branding Billy” or what it means to think about Shakespeare as a commodity. Beginning with moments of commodity exchange within Shakespeare’s own plays, this course will further consider consumption as a metaphor for writing and staging Renaissance drama as well as for modern novels, narratives, and cookbooks produced under the Shakespeare brand. Students will also examine how the Shakespeare brand is consumed in Stratford itself, such as enjoying a cream tea at “The Food of Love” on Henley Street or analyzing Shakespearean swag. Included in the tour are lectures with world-renowned scholars, performances at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) and the Globe Theatre in London, talk-back sessions with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors, acting workshops with RSC facilitators, and visits to all five Shakespeare Trust museums, including the fabled Birthplace. These activities will be linked to additional lectures and day trips focused on the stage, the shop, and the restaurant as loci for promoting the Shakespeare brand on behalf of individual citizens, tourists, and the British nation as a whole. As a result, the tour will include, among other activities, an afternoon at Mary Arden’s for learning about 17th-century cooking and farming techniques as an example of “living history” Shakespeare; a display of original Renaissance cookbooks alongside contemporary Shakespeare books produced and packaged for self-styled foodies; and a lecture on the commodification of Shakespeare to sell everything from mugs and t-shirts to chocolates and playing cards.
Coursework begins with pre-trip lectures at St. Mary’s campus for four days prior to leaving for England. Once across the pond, group activities will last for 15 days, followed by a long weekend for further study or travel on an individual basis. Plays at the RST and Globe run the gamut of Shakespeare’s oeuvre, including the most popular (The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew) and the little known (King John, Cymbeline, Measure for Measure, Richard II). Before attending any plays, students will read and discuss each text with Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black as well as with members of the Shakespeare Centre faculty in Stratford-upon-Avon. In turn, after viewing a production, students will further study the text through performance (or “consumption”) history, including talk-back sessions with Shakespeare scholars and RSC actors. In addition, students will also read modern British texts that connect to—yet also move beyond—the Renaissance, including a British novel or two reconstructing Shakespeare for its own ends; cookbooks that, in an updated format, echo Renaissance ideas of the kitchen; and pieces of cultural criticism and cultural kitsch that interrogate as well as celebrate the creation of ShakespeareTM.
For More Information
Contact: Prof. Jennifer Cognard-Black, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost: $4,800* without tuition / $5,580* with four college-level credits (including airfare, ground travel, bed & breakfast accommodations, two group dinners, museum entrances, all play tickets, all lectures, all workshops, and all excursions)
When: 10 June through 27 June 2016 with pre-trip meetings 6 June – 9 June
*subject to minor fluctuation, depending on the dollar-to-pound exchange rate