Spring 2017

Thinking Law with Shakespeare

Listed in: English, as ENGL-337  |  Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-317


Adam Sitze (Section 01)


(Offered as LJST 317 and ENGL 337)  [Analytical Seminar] It is well known that Shakespeare’s texts put into play an intricate set of juridical terms and forms. The premise of this course is that we can retrieve from this “putting into play” a unique way of thinking about modern juridical order at the moment of its inception. Through the close reading of three Shakespearean texts, we will trace the way these works "put into play" some of the most basic concepts of modern Anglophone jurisprudence (such as person and impersonation, inheritance and usurpation, contract and oath, tyranny and sovereignty, pardon and mercy, matrimony and patrimony, and civil war and empire, marriage and divorce). The aim of this inquiry will not be to apply jurisprudence to Shakespeare’s texts; nor will it be to use Shakespeare’s texts to humanize a legal training that otherwise would risk remaining sterile and unfeeling; nor, finally, will it be either to historicize Shakespeare's texts (limiting them to a particular place and time) or to universalize those texts (treating them as the exemplar for all of humanity). It will be to treat the play of juridical terms and forms within Shakespeare’s texts as an occasion to think law with Shakespeare, and as such to learn to rethink the genesis and basis of modern Anglophone jurisprudence more generally.

Recommended requisite: LJST 110. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Sitze.

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to LJST and English Majors


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019