Week 1: A model of criminality: Iago of Othello, genius of self fashioning
We consider a model of self-fashioning by critic Stephen Greenblatt. we ask how and why Iago fashioned and maintained the “honest Iago” image, and how the major characters supported him. What does his skill say about identity and criminality?
Week 2: Iago’s images of Desdemona, Cassio and Othello: a genius of other fashioning.
What is reputation? How do we fashion it? How does Desdemona’s reputation subtly change, and shift in Othello’s mind from ideal wife to deceitful Venetian courtesan? At the end, cornered, caught, facing ultimate and severe punishment with no way out, what does Iago mean when he says, “I never more will speak word”?
Week 3: Film: Murder on the Orient Express: self fashioning by all on board, including Ratchett/John Cassetti
Is this a serious novel or popular entertainment? We explore the question of the Lindberg trial and its relation to the novel and film. We consider proof, evidence, self-fashioning, other-fashioning, and a submerged argument for a better justice system. we look at the detective at work; what is his method, and how does he square with a real detective?
Week 4: Murder on the Orient Express, Branagh’s fashioning of Poirot
We consider Poirot as type and antitype. How does he differ from other well-known fictional detectives like Sherlock Holmes, Morse or Marlow? What is he up against with this particular crime? Most of his work seems to be undoing the self-fashioning of all concerned—does he have a method for uncovering the crime?
Week 5: A Dark Adapted Eye, Ruth Rendell & Barbara Vine
What is the crime in this novel? Can a crime itself be fashioned? Is the novel a criminological study of a social system and its dysfunctions? We explore the deep gender fractures in the justice system and the law of the period. Did they exist only in that period? We look at the critical views.
Week 6: A Dark Adapted Eye: What is the Basis of Self and Other Fashioning?
We consider the hero as criminal. What does the novel tell us about criminality? What is the relation of the novel to a possible state crime? Finally, in light of our readings, we conduct a summation and evaluation of the Greenblatt theory.