Fall 2024

Thinking Law with Shakespeare

Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-217


Adam Sitze (Section 01)


LJST 217 

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 four texts, we will trace the composition of some of the most fundamental problems 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 else to universalize those texts (treating them as the exemplar for humanity as such). It will be to treat Shakespeare’s texts as an occasion to rethink the genesis and basis of the modern Anglophone jurisprudence that we inherit today in a specifically globalized form.

Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Sitze .

How to handle overenrollment: Priortiy given to LJST Majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: (a) emphasis on written work, and (b) emphasis on heavy readings.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024