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“Philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
Handout on Renaissance scepticism [Silver]
This seminar, co-taught by Victoria Silver and Julia Lupton, will examine a selection of plays by Shakespeare through the conceptual framework of “forms of life.” The phrase “forms of life” is closely associated with the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, for whom “forms of life” are not sociological schemata or psychological paradigms, much less ontological paradigms, but rather characteristic behaviors to whose complexity and distinctiveness our concepts correspond. For Wittgenstein, “forms of life” link living and thinking in an open circuit of free formulation. The phrase “forms of life” also recurs in contemporary discussions of biopolitics, understood as the institutional management of life, the emergence of post-human forms of life under technology, and the concentration of “bare life” in conditions of statelessness and permanent emergency. A key though often unacknowledged source of these biopolitical reflections is Hannah Arendt, whose careful disassociation of political life (bios politikos) from the mere life or zoe of the oikos as well as from the (non)life of the mind lies behind much contemporary work on “life” in its competing forms and destinies. Each week will be organized about a distinctive form of life in Shakespeare, including MAGIC, HOLIDAYS, DOUBLE BODIES, DOUBLE ARGUMENT, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, FRIENDSHIP, ACCUSATION, and MAGNANIMITY.
Week 1 | April 3 | Introduction:
Forms of Life in Shakespeare [JRL and VS]
Readings in Wittgenstein. Remarks 1-52 (pp. 2e-26) and Rabkin, Shakespeare and the Common Understanding, “Shakespeare and the Common Understanding,” pp. 1-29 [reader 2], and Arendt, Human Condition, pp. 7-21 and 175-192. (Lupton)
Handout (Word Doc) on The Human Condition
Of related interest: Hannah Arendt’s Renaissance
Week 2 | April 10 | A Midsummer Night’s Dream: HOLIDAY [JRL]
a) C. L. Barber, chapter from Shakespeare’s Festive Comedies [Reader]
b) Santner, Psychotheology of Everyday Life [in reader]
Of additional interest: David Marshall, “Exchanging Visions: Reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream“. ELH, Vol. 49, No. 3. (Autumn, 1982), pp. 543-575.
Additional links to articles on MSND.
Handout on Rude Mechancals with quotations from Barber and Sannter (Word Doc) [JRL]
Link to Slide presentation on A Midsummer Night’s Dream [JRL]
Muddy Mazes: Forms of Life in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
(seminar notes / Word Doc / by JRL)
Week 3 | April 17 | A Midsummer Night’s Dream: MAGIC [VS]
a) Huizinga, “The Decline of Symbolism” and “The Failure of Imagination”
b) Wittgenstein, Remarks 73-133; pp. 34-51.
Week 4 | April 24 | Richard II: DOUBLE ARGUMENT [VS]
a) Rabkin, Common Understanding, “The Polity,” pp. 80-149.
b) Wittgenstein, Part II, Sectoin 11, Investigations, pp. 193-229.
c) G. Wilson Knight, “The Prophetic Soul: A Note on Richard II,“ (reader)
Week 5 | May 1 | Richard II: DOUBLE BODIES [JRL]
Kantorowitz, The King’s Two Bodies, chapter on Richard II and “Polity-Centered Kingship” [Reader]
Political Theology Chart [JRL]
Wilton Diptych Handout [JRL]
Week 6 | May 8 Hamlet: FRIENDSHIP [JRL]
a) Carl Schmitt, selection from Hamlet oder Hekuba? [Reader] and from Rust translation (reader)
b) Paul Kottman, A Politics of the Scene, chapter on Hamlet (reader)
c) Review Arendt on speech, action, drama.
Week 7 | May 15 Hamlet: ACKNOWLEDGMENT [VS]
a) G. Wilson Knight, “The Embassy of Death: An Essay on Hamlet“ (reader) and “Rose of May: An Essay on Life-Themes in Hamlet,“ (reader)
b) Rabkin, “Self Against Self” (reader 2)
c) Huizinga, “The Heroic Dream”
d) xerox from Stanley Cavell (forthcoming)
e) Wittgenstein, Part II, Section IV, Philosophical Investigations, pp. 178.
King’s Two Bodies and Treason Law [Silver handout; Word Doc]
Additional links on Schmitt and Shakespeare:
Carl Schmitt’s Renaissance
Week 8 | May 22 | Hamlet continued: MAGNANIMITY and MISANTHROPY [VS and JRL]
Week 9 | May 29 | The Winter’s Tale:
a) Huizinga, “The Forms of Thought in Practice”
b) Rabkin, “Eros and Death” and “The Great Globe Itself”
Week 10 | June 5 | The Winter’s Tale: LIFE and
a) G. Wilson Knight, “Great Creating Nature”
b) Lowell Gallagher on The Winter’s Tale [Reader]
c) Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 96-109 (“Labor and Life” and “Labor and Fertility”)
Notes on the Language of Flowers and the Politics of Hospitality [PDF JRL]
Riverside Collected Shakespeare (or another scholarly edition)
Two course readers, available on line from University Readers
Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
Arendt, The Human Condition
Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages
Additional articles linked to this syllabus
Proseminar: two short papers, 8-12 pp.
Seminar: developed research paper, 18-25 pp.
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