Past Courses

22 Course Offerings

The Imaginary Kings: Claudius, Lear, and Prospero with Marie Roche

Course description: These plays, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Tempest, finish the year with a punch! So much ink has been spilled on them that one may wonder what is left to be talked about. Everyone is an expert on them. Here we are, however, once again but with a twist. These plays feature three kings of Shakespeare’s imagination who decide to go against divine order: Lear wants to retire from his kingly responsibilities (who can blame him), Prospero wants to pursue knowledge at the expense of his kingdom, and Claudius wants the kingdom of Denmark all for himself at the expense of his brother and family. In this course, we will bring home questions on the ramification of human intention and action: What happens when free will i.e., the desire to live the life as we see fit, comes against divine order, if we believe that there is one? Have we experienced moments in our lives when our decisions have been seen as selfish or destructive to others? What are the consequences of our actions? Do we think about them before we act? Is choosing to retire, to pursue knowledge or power of all sorts such a bad thing? How are the decisions of characters – even those that may play a smaller role – affecting others in the story, and affecting us as readers?

In addition, for those who took the history plays cycle last year, this course will be an opportunity to look at instances in which kingship appears outside of the actual historical sequence studied. It will be an opportunity to compare and contrast the kings of history and the kings of the imaginary – or is that line of distinction difficult to draw?


Workshop Hamlet King Lear  with Hilary Dennis

Summer 2022 Course Offerings

Shakespeare in Translation with Marie Roche
Conversational college-level French required. The class will be conducted entirely in French. The bilingual text, translated by Jean-Michel Deìprats, will be provided to the attendees.
This class seeks to expose the attendees to Shakespeare’s texts in translation. Passages will be read together, and questions will be addressed such as: What is gained or lost in translation? How do we experience the text in another language? The translator’s choice of words and translation of humor and more. Le songe d’une nuit d’été


Spring 2022 Course Offerings

Community Shakespeare with Marie Roche: Shakespeare’s History Plays Marathon
For the Spring of 2022 participants will be reading Shakespeare’s history plays in a historical chronology, rather than in the chronology of when the works were published or performed. 

Workshop: Richard III  with Emily MacLeod (George Washington University)

 Spring 2022

Power from the Margin 
Struggles to establish legitimacy to the throne, the bastard, and women in politics



Three special workshops with guest scholar, Marshall Garrett, Brave Spirits Theater, will be held on Zoom.

Richard II
Reading Shakespeare Aloud
Troilus and Cressida

Summer 2021

Shakespeare Aloud: Two Gentlemen of Verona


Shakespeare in Translation (French)Les deux gentilshommes de Vérone
Conversational, college-level French required. Class conducted entirely in French. Bilingual text translated by Jean-Michel Déprats. The text will be provided to the attendees.

Shakespeare on Film: A Study of Sir John Falstaff
The Hollow Crown and Chimes at Midnight with Orson Welles

Fall 2021

The Grooming of a Modern Political Leader & English National Identity

Winter 2021 – Virtual Course Offerings


5 seminars discussing Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Participants should be familiar with the play and have read it recently. Come prepared for active discussion. 

Fall 2020 – Virtual Course Offerings:
Marie Roche, Ph.D. UMass.

What has love got to do with it: Wars & National Conflicts?

This fall’s conversation will not be for the faint of heart, but for the warriors of ideas who will unflinchingly tackle and conquer the profound questions these plays raise. We will endeavor to explore: Romeo and Juliet; Antony and Cleopatra and Troilus and Cressida. We will explore the purpose and representation of love in these plays as the entry point to study how the personal enters the larger stage of British history (Troy and its fall; the Tyrone Rebellion), and of epics and myth (Iliad and Aeneid), and conversely how the external conflicts of titans (Priam and Agamemnon) and nations (Ancient Greece and Roman Empires) enter the realm of the private, causing the lovers’ demise and perhaps, with them, the death of a kind of ideology. How do the lovers’ relationships reveal or exemplify clashes of existential beliefs, of politics, and even the colliding of traditions; epic, historic, and romance?

Three special workshops with guest scholar, Jessica Bauman, director of Arden Everywhere, will be held on zoom.

Romeo and Juliet
Antony and Cleopatra
Troilus and Cressida

Spring & Summer 2020:

Marie Roche, Ph.D. UMass, is offering a series of seminars.

Journeys and Discoveries. Participants will be reading As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, and Pericles. The class will investigate new ways of seeing and experiencing quests into uncharted territories. There are no prerequisites: participants need to bring a copy of the play and a willingness to read aloud. 

Special guest, Jessica Bauman, director of Arden Everywhere

Shakespeare Aloud. Would you enjoy taking on the Shakespearean role of your dreams?  Join us in Shakespeare Aloud. Each participant will take on a character and learn to read the parts. Readings for each character will rotate amongst the members. Short presentations will be offered on topics related to the play. 


Play: Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare in Translation. Are you curious about how Shakespeare sounds in another language? How his puns and wits carry over from English to French? What can we learn about the impact of Shakespeare’s texts in other countries? Enjoy the Bard in French and explore the beauty of his language in translation. 

Bilingual edition translated by Jean Michel Déprats. Bilingual conversation as needed. All levels of French welcome.

Play: Beaucoup de bruit pour rien 


Shakespeare on Film. Join us in watching productions of Othello as a whole and in parts. Discussion of the play will focus performance history in film and audience reception. Along the way, we will also explore specific micro-topics with short presentations. 

Play: Othello

Three productions of Othello with special features: 

Orson Welles’ Othello (1952)

Laurence Olivier’s Othello (1965)

Othello with Laurence Fishburne, Irene Jacob, and Kenneth Branagh. Director Oliver Parker (1995)


Summer 2019:

Marie Roche, Ph.D. UMass, is offering a seminar entitled Shakespeare Aloud: A New Experience. Participants will be reading Twelfth Night together. There are no requirements–just bring a copy of the play and be willing to read aloud. Optional extra readings, discussion, and laughter will be provided! The class meets Mondays, 5:00 – 6:30 pm, beginning July 1st and going until the play is done. ~5 weeks.

Marie Roche, Ph.D. UMass, will teach Shakespeare in Translation: Le Roi Lear/French King Lear. Bilingual texts will be provided before the first meeting. Some fluency in French is required to best enjoy the class. 

Spring 2019:

Marie Roche, Ph.D. UMass, is offering a twelve-week seminar, entitled: The Body Deciphered, which will involve reading Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra with a particular focus on the body. What is fascinating, says Jennifer Edwards, “about the presentations of these texts are the ways in which they interact with the body, and vice versa; with bodies presented as texts in need of deciphering, and texts that in their very fabric and construction recall the body.” The class will not then dwell on the gruesome details present in these plays, but rather explore Shakespeare’s presentation of the body and its manifestations as text, history, politics, character, etc. 

Fall 2018:

Marie Roche
, Ph.D. UMass, is offering a twelve-weeks seminar entitled: Shakespeare’s Badass Mothers, which will look at three mothers in particular and the context of political power: Volumnia (Coriolanus), Gertrude (Hamlet), and Margaret of Anjou, the She-Wolf of France (Henry VI).