This course will begin by exploring representations of race and gender in Early Modern Europe. This exploration will prepare us for extended work on two of Shakespeare’s plays: Titus Andronicus and Othello. The course will culminate in a full-dress mock trial of Othello for the murder of Desdemona. We will collaborate with an advanced acting class in the Theater department, which will supply student actors to give depositions and testify in character. Students from our class will form legal teams for the prosecution and defense. They may also elect to participate as “media hounds,” whose role will be to generate fictitious news coverage of the trial (interviews, mock newscasts) and to publicize the trial through social media, posters, and coverage by local news outlets.
At the request of last year’s students, the course this time includes a one-hour lab that will focus specifically on preparations for the mock trial. Legal teams planning their strategies will meet with trial lawyers, legal consultants, advisors to the university Moot Court trial team, and actors scheduled to testify as characters. Media hounds will brainstorm ideas and develop plans for trial coverage. Jurors will research and deliver presentations on topics related to the question of Othello’s guilt: jealousy, assimilation to a dominant culture, masculine and feminine roles in early modern Europe.