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Lectures from the Allen Room and the Wertheim Study: Fathers and Sons in Hamlet


April 24, 2012

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Shakespeare’s preoccupation with the father-son nexus in Hamlet  is reflected in early modern English society more largely, where a plethora of texts on the family appeared during the 16th and 17th centuries. This talk will focus on two kinds of these didactic texts: the middle-class family treatise, written by ministers seeking to define the newly Protestant family; and the humanist princely treatise, authored variously by kings and court intellectuals, which articulated one important vision of ruling. These texts offer competing prescriptions for sons which can help us understand the fissures and hesitations marking Hamlet’s portrayal and the tortured complexity of his response to his father’s demand for revenge. 

Margaret Mikesell Tabb is professor of English at John Jay College (CUNY). An editor of Juan Luis Vives’ Instruction of a Christen Woman (1523), she writes on early modern gender in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

For other lectures from the Wertheim Study, click here.