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ENGLISH 5L: WISE: Early (Post)Modern Entertainment from Elizabethan England to the 21st Century

Although the enduring popularity of Shakespeare has been held up as proof of his timeless genius, this course asks what it would really mean to experience his output as we would a blockbuster film or TV series. In class, we will take a transhistorical look at the rise and evolution of entertainment as an industry and a concept. Revisiting plays from the so-called `Golden Age' of English theater, we will approach works by Shakespeare and his early modern contemporaries not so much as `masterpieces' in the literary canon, but as for-profit entertainment enabled and shaped by legal, social, and political contexts. To gain comparative insight, and to expose both similarities and differences between entertainment's various functions over time, case studies in Elizabethan and Jacobean literature will be paired alongside excursions in contemporary media - from Pixar Studios' Inside Out to Ufotable's anime adaptation of the Gen Urobuchi light novel, Fate/Zero. We situate this inquiry by drawin more »
Although the enduring popularity of Shakespeare has been held up as proof of his timeless genius, this course asks what it would really mean to experience his output as we would a blockbuster film or TV series. In class, we will take a transhistorical look at the rise and evolution of entertainment as an industry and a concept. Revisiting plays from the so-called `Golden Age' of English theater, we will approach works by Shakespeare and his early modern contemporaries not so much as `masterpieces' in the literary canon, but as for-profit entertainment enabled and shaped by legal, social, and political contexts. To gain comparative insight, and to expose both similarities and differences between entertainment's various functions over time, case studies in Elizabethan and Jacobean literature will be paired alongside excursions in contemporary media - from Pixar Studios' Inside Out to Ufotable's anime adaptation of the Gen Urobuchi light novel, Fate/Zero. We situate this inquiry by drawing on theorists such as Guy Debord and Julia Kristeva, plus more recent offerings in legal and literary scholarship. By the end of this course, students will have thought through big and tough questions like `Would Shakespeare have become Shakespeare had he come up in the 20th- or 21st-centuries?'; `How would a Tarantino film have gone over at the Globe in the early 1600s?'; and even, `What might we expect from entertainment in the future?'. (Note: This Writing-Intensive Seminar in English (WISE) course fulfills WIM for English majors. Non-majors are welcome, space permitting. For enrollment permission contact vbeebe@stanford.edu.)
Terms: Win | Units: 5
Instructors: Menna, M. (PI)
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