*Abbreviations under the "Available" column: A = Available // NA = Not Available // R = Previously Registered // WL = Currently on the Wait List
The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare's Troubling Vision
William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is a problematic play for modern audiences. This course will explore the “vexed problem” that lies at the heart of our discomfort: is the play anti-Semitic? Harold Bloom takes an unequivocal position on the question, “One would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to recognize that The Merchant of Venice is a profoundly anti-Semitic work." However, many critics have attempted to rescue the play from this accusation. Is Shylock a villain? A tragic hero? How does Shakespeare’s view of his own society affect the play? We will view the play act by act via a taped performance. The course will then explore the play through close reading of the text, consideration of the critical literature, and class discussion. The study will attempt to place the play in the evolution of Shakespeare’s body of work and the evolution of his world view.
Charles Chadwick has a BA and an MA in literature and taught adult education courses in literature extensively in Northern Virginia prior to his retirement. He has taught OLLI courses since 2014, including courses on King Lear and Othello, as well as a course on the writings of Wendell Berry, and two courses on “The Devotional Tradition in English Poetry.” In his career he was active both as a corporate ethicist and as an executive in US government contracting. He served as a Fellow of the Ethics Resource Center, president of the National Contract Management Association, and chair of the Council of Defense and Space Industries Association. But he confesses that literature always has been his first love.
Students will need a copy of the play. The instructor has used The Merchant of Venice: Third Series (Arden Shakespeare), 2011, in preparation of this course (available on Amazon) and recommends this version. However, any good edition will suffice although you will notice minor textual and line reference differences.
A bibliography of reference materials consulted during preparation of the course will be provided if students wish to explore the scholarship on their own.