R101 | Shakespeare's Richard II


9:30 am-11:00 am


1/21, 1/28, 2/4, 2/11, & 2/18

(No class on 2/25)

Five Sessions

This course is offered online via the easy-to-use Zoom program.

Richard II, Shakespeare’s first in a sequence of plays that recounts the Wars of the Roses, features a self-absorbed king who makes disastrous decisions, only discovering his humanity just as his life is ending. Sound familiar? But Richard is very different from King Lear, and this is a very different play.  Three first cousins, all of royal descent, have to figure out how to survive in a world of shifting power and fragile, fickle alliances. Recent productions have featured a plot twist not in the original, and so one of our discussions will focus on this choice made by multiple directors, and how well it works. We will spend most of two class sessions watching a film version of the play. 

Suggested Reading: 

Folger Library paperback, or other version of the play. 

Ann Berman holds a Master of Arts in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College, London.  She spent 30 years as a teacher and administrator at the Dover-Sherborn Public Schools and 8 years as a course facilitator at Lifelong Learning at Regis College in Weston, MA. 

Course Materials:

Holinshed: Richard's Deposition

David Crystal on "Old, Middle, Modern: Chaucer as the turning point…” 

New Yorker Article on Shakespeare and Plagues 

Shakespeare's Life (Folger).pdf

Timeline of Shakspeare's life.pdf

Edward III family tree.png

Richard led to the Tower.pdf

The Reign of Richard II.pdf

Deviations from Holinshed in Richard II.pdf


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