OWLS School: Bad Shakespeare: Villainy and the problem of evil on the Renaissance stage | October 5 & 6

Posted on August 22, 2017 in Learning

October 5 & 6

Who hasn’t taken some pleasure in the machinations of a villain? From Iago, to Claudius, to Richard III, Shakespeare created some of the most dastardly—and some of the most fun—villains for the stage. But these villains don’t always see themselves as bad people, and for some, their motivations are often complex combinations of bad intent and honest hope for personal or social change. In this course, we’ll examine some of Shakespeare’s best-known villains, and a few that are (hopefully) a little less well-known, to think about how villainy and the questions of bad faith and wicked intentions were represented and understood during the English Renaissance. We’ll consider how villainy occasionally intersects with Renaissance discourses of male friendship and sixteenth century theories of class and race. We’ll pause over passages that construct villains over the bodies of women, and we’ll examine the nearness of villainy and the project of building-up the nation state. Our course won’t be relentlessly negative, however. We’ll also juxtapose villains with their more virtuous counterparts so as to map the contours of the moral worlds Shakespeare’s plays create.

We’ll discuss large portions of Othello, Hamlet, Richard III, Measure for Measure, Titus Andronicus, and The Tempest. Some familiarity with these plays will help but is not necessary. We’ll also watch a few classic performances that complicate our readings of villainy.

If you would like to sign up for this course or want to see the full OWLS schedule, visit the OWLS page.

Elise Lonich Ryan

Elise Lonich Ryan received her Ph.D. in English Renaissance literature from Indiana University in 2014. Currently, she teaches courses on Shakespeare, medieval and Renaissance literature, and college writing in the Department of Writing, Philosophy, and the Humanities at Columbus College of Art and Design. She has also designed and taught a course on visual poetry  for CCAD’s Honors Program. She has received awards for her teaching and for the completion of her dissertation.

Lonich Ryan’s work focuses on the intersection of poetry and religion, particularly in materials translated into English during the Reformation era. She has published on the seventeenth century poet Lucy Hutchinson, and she has presented her work both nationally and internationally. After participating in a year-long research colloquium at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C., Lonich Ryan is preparing an article on gender and theories of translation in the seventeenth century.