Nicholas Utzig

Undergraduate Discipline

Literature

BS, US Military Academy, West Point. MA, New York University. ABD, Harvard University. Special interests include Shakespeare, early modern English drama, history of the book, and war & literature. Scholarly work appears in Shakespeare Bulletin and The Journal of War and Culture Studies. He occasionally reviews military-themed work for the Los Angeles Review of Books. SLC, 2022–

Undergraduate Courses 2022-2023

Literature

Our Revels Now Are Ended: Late Shakespeare

Open, Lecture—Spring

The turn of the 17th century found Shakespeare approaching the height of his career. Shortly after James I ascended to the throne of England in 1603, a royal patent extended the king’s patronage over London’s leading troupe of players, transforming the Lord Chamberlain’s Men into the King’s Men. Unknown to Shakespeare at the time, the formation of the King’s Men marked the beginning of his final decade as a playwright. The revels were coming to an end. This course looks at Shakespeare’s late plays—drama written and performed between 1600 and 1613. We’ll begin the term with Hamlet and continue through a series of tragedies unmatched in English dramatic literature—Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus. Tragedy will give way to improbable return and reunion, as we read Shakespeare’s great romances: Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. Along the way, we’ll encounter problem plays and even a late history. The term will end with a move from stage to page, as we take a focused look at the First Folio of 1623: the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s works ever printed. Entering its quadricentennial, the Folio is one of the most important early printed books and our sole source for 18 of Shakespeare’s plays. Our study of this extraordinary edition will introduce students to early modern print culture and book history. By the end of the course, students will have a rich understanding of Shakespeare’s major late works and a sense of how these plays fit within the lively Jacobean commercial theatre. Biweekly group conferences may focus on non-Shakespearean 17th-century drama, performance history, or print culture—secondary concerns that will enrich our understanding of Shakespeare’s masterful final act.

Faculty

The Upstart Crow: Elizabethan Shakespeare

Open, Seminar—Fall

One of the earliest references to Shakespeare’s literary career is an insult. Robert Greene, a Cambridge-educated playwright and pamphleteer, complained of his rival’s success by grumbling about “an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers.” The recently arrived Shakespeare was a poor imitator of England’s leading dramatic poets, Greene protested. Whatever one’s verdict on the quality of the verse, one thing was clear: Shakespeare was shaking up London’s commercial theatre almost from the moment of his arrival. This seminar looks at Shakespeare’s Elizabethan years, a period spanning the late 1580s through 1603. We begin with some early successes, plays like Richard III and Titus Andronicus, before continuing to some of his most famous works, including Henry IV, Part I; As You Like It; and Twelfth Night. Along the way, we’ll find time for a few understudied plays, such as Henry VI, Parts 2 & 3, and King John. Reading from Shakespeare’s apprentice-like early offerings through the great comedies and histories will give us an opportunity to explore Shakespeare’s development alongside the growth of the commercial theatre, allowing us to see the “upstart Crow” become London’s leading dramatist. Students will leave the seminar with a firm grounding in Shakespeare’s early work, having encountered representative comedies, tragedies, and histories from his most productive period. Biweekly conferences may consider non-Shakespearean drama, performance history, or Shakespeare in adaptation—perspectives that may help us understand how Shakespeare fits within the rambunctious Elizabethan theatre world and why, after 400 years, there’s still so much to say about these great plays.

Faculty