RCHUMS 314 - The Figure of Rome in Shakespeare and 16th-Century Painting
Section: 001
Term: WN 2018
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Why was Shakespeare interested in Rome? How did his reading of Roman writers shape the way he understood history? Did he use the ancient history of Rome as a way of representing, interpreting, and perhaps filtering the political issues of his own day? In this course, we will examine four of Shakespeare’s plays, Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Cymbeline, placing them not only in the context of Shakespeare’s development as a playwright, but also in terms of his enigmatic (and possibly covert) commentary on the controversies of his own time: political dissent; the limits to resistance; the cryptic speech of silenced minorities; the “right” to assassinate tyrants; and the legitimate authority of princes.

Because this is an interdisciplinary course, we will also address similar questions in three Italian Painters, Mantegna, Caravaggio, and Titian, all of whom imagined and depicted Rome on their own terms.

  1. Blood Cries out: Martyrdom and Authority.
    • Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus;
    • Ovid, selections from the Metamorphoses;
    • Livy, selections from the Early History of Rome;
    • Augustine, selections from The City of God;
    • Caravaggio paintings.
  2. The Lion and the Fox: Strategies of Power.
    • Plutarch, Lives of Julius Caesar and Brutus;
    • Shakespeare, Julius Caesar;
    • Mantegna paintings.
  3. The Snare of Love.
    • Plutarch, Life of Anthony;
    • Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra;
    • Titian paintings.
  4. Inventing British Paganism.
    • Julius Caesar, Commentaries on the Gallic War (Selections);
    • Shakespeare, Cymbeline

Course Requirements:

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Intended Audience:

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Class Format:

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RCHUMS 314 - The Figure of Rome in Shakespeare and 16th-Century Painting
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 1903436052
Titus Andronicus, Author: [William Shakespeare] ; edited by Jonathan Bate., Publisher: Arden Shakespeare Repr. 2006
ISBN: 0174434901
Julius Caesar, Author: edited by David Daniell., Publisher: Arden Shakespeare New ed. 1998
ISBN: 1904271014
Antony and Cleopatra, Author: edited by John Wilders., Publisher: Arden Shakespeare Repr. 2005
ISBN: 0199536503
Cymbeline, Author: William Shakespeare ; edited by Roger Warren., Publisher: Oxford University Press 2008
ISBN: 0140441581
Makers of Rome, nine lives Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Macellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus, Mark Antony, Author: translated with an introd. by Ian Scott-Kilvert., Publisher: Penguin Books Reprinted. 1965
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