CROWN AND CRISIS IN SHAKESPEARE'S ENGLAND AND CONTEMPORARY EUROPE
This seminar will focus on Shakespeare's history plays with a view to argue that they are relevant today not only for Britain but also for Europe. It will look at how Shakespeare staged and interpreted the series of English medieval crises of political sovereignty through his two tetralogies —their turmoil, but also the solutions devised by their characters. It will then invite students to work on the links between these plays and some of their modern adaptations. The latter would include The Hollow Crown TV series (2012) and a new play by Mike Bartlett, King Charles III, premiered in London's Almeida Theatre in 2014. King Charles III is a distopic play that contemplates an England where Elizabeth II has died and Prince Charles is king. Written in blank verse, this new history play is brimming with echoes of Henry IV, Henry V, Richard II and Richard III. The seminar will address the role of a monarch and the notions of sovereignty and of 'Englishness', but also of a country's unity, purpose and place within a larger world—whether that world is early or contemporary Europe.