How Shakespeare Works: A Free Night Course

Monday, April 27, 2015, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Monday, April 20, 2015, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Monday, April 27, 2015, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Monday, May 11, 2015, 6:00pm - 7:00pm

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'The Plays of William Shakespeare' (detail). John Gilbert. 1849.

'The Plays of William Shakespeare' (detail). John Gilbert. 1849.

The Cooper Union’s charter calls for free night courses open to all. This spring, we are offering "Shakespeare at Work: An Introduction to the Plays in Nine Talks," taught by William Germano, Ph.D., Dean of Cooper Union’s Faculty of Humanities and Social sciences.

Shakespeare’s plays exert their power over us through the beauty of language, the craft of drama, and something else we can’t easily name. Or maybe we can. These talks are designed as an introduction – or reintroduction – to Shakespeare the poet-playwright-player and to the world of his plays. That world can be lyrical or violent, green or desolate, a place for love and sex or for grappling with the mysteries of time and death.  Shakespeare’s plays were performed at many places and theaters – the famous Globe is only one – but “globe” is as good a metaphor as any for the body of work that, quite miraculously, survived his death in 1616. Shakespeare’s plays teem with characters, and those characters have problems that draw us back again and again. Because five hundred years later, those problems are still with us, and the language in which he poses them continues to give us consolation, and joy, and hope.

Each talk begins at 6:00 and lasts for one-hour. The schedule is:

February 2 -- The plays as craft: Shakespeare in his poetic time

February 9 -- The plays as performance:  Shakespeare in his theatrical time

February 23 -- Titus Andronicus:  the theater of knife

March 2 -- A Midsummer Night’s Dream:  the theater of sleep

March 9 -- Henry V: the theater of arms

April  13 -- Othello: the theater of race

April 20 -- Hamlet: the self as theater

April 27 -- Coriolanus: politics as theater

May  11 -- The Winter’s Tale:  theater after the end of time

Dr. Germano recommends that attendees read each play before the relevant talk. Pelican editions are a good choice.

Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.