General Information

Tuesdays, 5:30-8:15
Prof. Hank Edmondson
706 421 2671(try text first, please)
Office Hours: M 1-3; Tu 1-5; W 1-2

This course is designed to study selected works of Shakespeare in combination with both classical works of political philosophy and modern accounts of war. While attention will be given to ancient conflicts, more concentration will be placed upon the modern battles and wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, including the present engagement with Al-Queda. Topics will include leadership in time of war, the danger of tyranny, the promise of statesmanship, the difficulty of ambition, the problem of weak leadership, the use and misuse of honor, the difficulty of national ingratitude, the phenomenon of relinquishing power, and the question of whether democracies or dictatorships produce the best kind of soldiers.  This year we will expand this theme a little to include the topic of gender politics, especially to take advantage of the performances available at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern.

Course Objectives:
--learning, recognizing and applying the political and martial themes in Shakespeare’s plays
--applying those themes to historical and contemporary politics and warfare
--learning and applying the ideas of various political philosophers whose work is relevant to the above
--writing well, reading analytically, articulating clearly, and researching insightfully

Student Responsibilities:
Students will be expected to attend class regularly,  to take a mid-term and comprehensive final exam, and to write a research paper on an approved topic germane to the course material.

Research Paper:
This is a formal term paper and should include endnotes as the form of documentation. Length should be 10-12 2x typewritten pages. Students are responsible for their own topics since half the battle (no pun intended) is recognizing the important questions. In fact recognizing the important questions can be much more important than having all the answers. Although the topics may very, your research paper must incorporate, in some way, war and Shakespeare and the paper should be based on one of the plays we have studied.

Additional Reading:
You are strongly encouraged to read one or more quality periodicals of your choosing and bring the results of your reading into our classroom discussions and to use that material in your exams. Those who are willing to do so will see the results in your grade. Possible periodicals/websites/podcasts include The Economist, The New York Times, The Times of London, National Review, the New Republic, the Atlantic Monthly, the Cato Institute, the Jim Lehrer News Hour.

The Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern
We are scheduled to attend two performances in Atlanta (see Class Schedule). Here is their website:

You will see the designated dates on the class schedule. If you can’t make it on those two dates, there are plenty of other performances of the same play--just check the site calendar. Thursday, however, is usually the most economical. If you can’t make it on any of the designated dates, let you instructors know. We will give you a separate assignment. Please note: you should purchase the Tavern tickets asap. Your professors cannot do that for you.

Class Format:
This class will be taught as a seminar, meaning that we will read and discuss the material together. You must take an active role in the classroom in order to receive the best grade. If you are uncomfortable with this format, you should reconsider taking the class. 

Mid-term: 1/3
Final Exam: 1/3
Final Paper: 1/3
Classroom Participation will prove decisive in cases of borderline grades

In order to make the class as economical as possible for you, you may order any edition of the plays we are covering--new or used--that you want. This should keep the course cost pretty low. The plays are:

Richard II
The Taming of the Shrew
Henry VI, Part I
Julius Caesar




© Hank Edmondson 2012