Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Class with Harvard EdX

This is the description for another new class that K and I are taking together - love these courses, with their great technology, international participation, and fascinating topics.  And the price is right too (free!)
Welcome to Hamlet’s Ghost, an online course offered by HarvardX. We are pleased to introduce to you here the course’s methods and goals. In this module we will read William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and discuss the play from a variety of perspectives and contexts. The goal of the course is not to cover all that has been written on Hamlet. Rather, it is to find a single point of entry that helps us think about the play as a whole. Our entry point is Hamlet’s Ghost. By beginning with the Ghost, we can see the different ways the play grapples with larger questions and issues, including death, mourning, and the power of theatre.

In each part we take a different approach to examining these questions. We hope that the course’s diverse methodologies will help you discover new and productive ways of engaging with this text and with others in the future.
We begin with with a section on Shakespeare’s Times. In this part, we visit London, the Globe Theatre, and Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon to learn about Shakespeare’s life and times and discuss their influence upon his plays. 
Part I examines the play from a dramatist’s and a performer’s point of view. Focusing on Act I, we examine the way that Shakespeare sets the stage for the Ghost’s dramatic first appearance to Hamlet. We also discuss how Shakespeare adapts his source material and how directors stage the Ghost’s appearance to ask what this tells us about the Ghost’s nature and the problem he poses for Hamlet.

Part II also focuses on Act I, now examining the play from a historical and anthropological point of view. We examine the religious controversies of Shakespeare’s time, especially the controversy over Purgatory, and their significance for the Ghost and for Hamlet. We also discuss how different cultures throughout time have mediated their relationship with the dead.

Part III invites learners to explore Acts II-V of the play from cultural, material, and aesthetic points of view. We ask how people might have thought of death in Shakespeare’s time and how they represented their conceptions in material and literary artifacts, and we compare these cultural views to representations of death in Shakespeare’s own plays.

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