BA Seminar: Comedy and Gender

B.A. Seminar: Comedy and Gender: Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Hollywood's fast talking dames

Prof. Elisabeth Bronfen, Tues. 16.15-18.oo

(1.) 23. Feb - Introduction


(2.) 2. Mar - Gender and Comedy: Intolerable Cruelty


(3.) 9. Mar - Taming of the Shrew


(4.) 16 Mar - The Critical Debate: Bean, Fineman, Freedman, Gay


(5.) 23. Mar - Mansfield Park and the theater of love confession and conversation


(6.) 30. Mar - Mansfield Park and disciplining gender (with Foucault's History of Sexuality)


(7.) 13. Apr - Midsummer Night's Dream read preposterously through Austen


(8.) 20. Apr - Midsummer Night's Dream and disciplining gender (with Freedman's Staging the Gaze)


(9.) 27. Apr - Philadelphia Story read through Shakespeare and Austen (with Cavell's Pursuits of Happiness and Bronfen on Cavell)


(10.) 4. Mai - Persuasion and the female fantasy of repetition (with Freud's "Family Romance")


(11.) 11. Mai - Persuasion and the romance of remarriage


(12.) 18. Mai - Winter's Tale read preposterously through Austen


(13.) 25. Mai - Lady Eve read through Shakespeare and Austen (with Cavell's Pursuits of Happiness)


(14.) 1. June - What you have learned


Please bear in mind: To come to class without having done the reading (or viewing) makes little to no sense. You can not fruitfully partake in class discussions if you have not prepared for them. All primary texts should, therefore, be read and, in the case of the films, viewed, before the class session dealing with them. Copies of the films are in the library, but I recommend you buy your own copy, much as you would buy your own copy of the Shakespeare plays and the Austen novels. For the former, I recommend The Norton Shakespeare, edited by Stephan Greenblatt.

All *secondary texts are on the 'Bronfen reserve shelf' in the library. I recommend buying your own copy of Foucault's History of Sexuality. Please make your own copies of the other texts, so you can prepare them for the respective class session. This will allow you to use the class sessions to develop your own ideas as well as your discussion skills.



Secondary Texts


On Shakespeare

*John C. Bean. "Comic Structure and the Humanizing of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew." The Woman's Part. Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Edited by Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz University of Illinois Press 1980.

* Barbara Freedman. Staging the Gaze. Postmodernism, Psychoanalysis, and Shakespearean Comedy. Cornell University Press 1991. Read "4. Taming Difference and The Taming of the Shrew: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Theater," and "5. Dis/Figuring Power: Censorship and Representation in A Midsummer Night's Dream".

*Joel Fineman. "The turn of the shrew." Shakespeare & The Question of Theory. Edited by Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman. Routledge 1985.

*Penny Gay. "The Taming of the Shrew. Avoiding the feminist challenge." As She Likes It. Shakespeare's Unruly Woman. Routledge 1994.


On Austen

* Sigmund Freud. Read "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming," and "Family Romances," both in The Standard Edition, Volume IX. London 1959.

* Michel Foucault. The History of Sexuality. An Introduction. Volume 1. Random House 1990 (see the copied excerpts).

Kathryn Sutherland. Jane Austen's Textual Lives. From Aeschylus to Bollywood. Oxford University Press 2005.

Penny Gay. Jane Austen and Theater. Cambridge University Press 2002.

Peter Knox-Shaw. Jane Austen and the Enlightenment. Cambridge University Press 2004.

Bruce Stovel and Lynn Weinlos Gregg (eds.). The Talk in Jane Austen. University of Alberta Press 2002.

Claudia Johnson and Claire Tuite. A Companion to Jane Austen. Blackwell 2009.



On Sophisticated Comedy

*Elisabeth Bronfen. Stanley Cavell zur Einführung. Junius 2009. Read "4. Denkraum Shakespeare," and "5. Hurray for Hollywood"

*Stanley Cavell. Pursuits of Happiness. The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage. Harvard U.P. 1981. Read "Introduction: Words for a Conversation," "1. Cons and Pros: The Lady Eve," and "4. The Importance of Importance: The Philadelphia Story"

Maria DiBattista. Fast-Talking Dames. Yale 2001.