Shakespeare's Tragedies: Lessons for Our Time
James Mumford PhD
Live online group classes. All sessions are recorded and made available to registrants, allowing you to review material or catch up on any missed sessions.
The course is led by James Mumford, who graduated with a double-first in English from Oxford University before becoming one of two Oxbridge students to receive a Henry Fellowship to Yale. After Yale he returned to Oxford to study new subjects at graduate level - Theology, Ethics and Political Philosophy. His PhD was published by Oxford University Press.
Approaching Shakespearean tragedy can be daunting. Even as individual texts, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear can seem impenetrable worlds unto themselves. This online series of classes is about providing "on-ramps" to these great plays. As well as Shakespeare's major tragedies we will also consider Richard II and Roman plays in the context of Shakespeare's tragedies. The seminars will ask: How do the character flaws of each main protagonist compare? How different or similar are the spiritual worlds of each play? What were the differing historical contexts for the tragedies? What do the respective endings show Shakespeare to be saying about the human condition?
Shakespearean tragedy is about everything: Paralysis and procrastination, deadly ambition, forbidden love, catastrophic foolishness, all-consuming jealousy, racism, ageing, suicide, deception, violence and villainy, heroism and virtue, responsibility and fate, the plague and marvel of self-consciousness. The classes will explore how Shakespeare explores all these themes. To understand Shakespearean tragedy is to understand Shakespeare's time as well as how he transcended it to speak to ours. Thus the classes will unearth the historical context necessary to understanding Shaekspearean's innovations with the genre before focusing on his four mature tragedies - Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear and Othello.
- Class 1 - How did Hamlet reinvent Tragedy?
- Class 2 - Who's to blame in Macbeth?
- Class 3 - Is King Lear the Bleakest Tragedy of Them All?
- Class 4 - Is Othello a racist play?
- Class 5 - Richard II
- Class 6 - What is Shakespeare up to in The Roman plays?
Sign up to our newsletter to receive special offers, updates on new courses and insights on Big Ideas.
Feedback For Our Courses
"Keystone Inspires shows that even a pandemic can produce something good. For those of us who’ve spent so much time in front of a screen, here at last is an idea that stimulates the brain instead of satiating it. For the first time in my life it brings the challenge and excitement of a conversation at High Table to your dining table in your home. Keystone Inspires proves that learning about something new can be fun — and after all, it’s what they’ve been doing with young people for years."Dr Martin Stephen (Former High Master of St Paul's School)
"Jessica was fantastic. I thought she was really engaging, inspiring and clearly knows her topic. By the end of the session people were chipping in when prompted and I really hope this develops each week into more and more discussion."Charlotte
"A really enthralling course by the brilliant Jules, bringing into sharp focus first Stoics, then Buddhists and then Taoists, done with a lightness of touch and really good pictures and slides that brought it all to life in a fun way. I had no idea how all these teachings in their different ways are so relevant to modern life - engaging and really well done."William Massey
Sign up to our newsletter to receive special offers, updates on new courses and insights on Big Ideas from our expert tutors.