The Taming of the Shrew may well have been Shakespeare’s first comedy. Though brilliantly constructed, the play seems to have irritated many then and continues to do so now. The problem is Katherine’s depiction both as a shrew and as a shrew in need of taming. Yet Katherine (who refuses to be called “Kate”) prefigures Shakespeare’s strong, attractive comic women to come. In fact, one is just around the corner: Beatrice, the shrew who steals the show from her sweet and compliant cousin, Hero, in Much Ado About Nothing. In this class we will study both plays with special attention to how Shakespeare makes clear how much a woman’s shrewish behavior may only be so in the eye of the beholder.
GROUP LEADER: Helen Whall received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 1976 and immediately joined the faculty of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester Massachusetts. There she taught courses in Shakespeare, the Renaissance, Renaissance Drama, Law and Drama and Dramatic Comedy. She has published a book on Pre-Shakespearean drama and numerous essays on Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as modern and contemporary playwrights. Professor Whall also served as the theater reviews editor for Theatre Journal.
REQUIRED BOOK: A copy of Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing Folger Editions (available for free on line) are preferable.
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)
Assumption College, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609