Hamlet and Philosophy

Term: Fall 2012

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6669

The objective of this seminar is deceptively simple: to read Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. Yet how are we to approach Shakespeare's longest, densest and most philosophically self-conscious drama? In addition to reading the play together slowly, collectively and line by line, we will look at the play in the company of a number of readers, notably Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Hegel, Schelling, Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan and Heiner Mueller. A number of problematics will be encountered: the political stakes of Hamlet, the nature of male and female sexuality in the play, the problem of nihilism, the theological background of Hamlet and the way in which it characterizes our so-called 'modernity', tragedy and the production of shame. It is hoped that our reading will add up to a kind of hamlet doctrine that might tell us something about why this play continues to fascinate us and to shape what we think of as our present.

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