Summer Shakespeare: Billy’s Kitchen" is a study tour designed to provide students an up-close-and-personal relationship with the Bard and his work within the literal and metaphoric context of consumption. Amid many of the same buildings in which...
Summer Shakespeare: Billy’s Kitchen" is a study tour designed to provide students an up-close-and-personal relationship with the Bard and his work within the literal and metaphoric context of consumption. Amid many of the same buildings in which Shakespeare slept, read, wrote, dreamed, desired, hoped, argued, and loved—and, yes, also ate—students study and attend five or six major dramatic productions of Shakespeare’s time, comparing their observations with those of world-renowned scholars and actors at the Shakespeare Centre and the Royal Shakespeare Company theaters in Stratford-upon-Avon, with an additional field trip to the Globe Theatre in London. In addition, students consider how Shakespeare's plays as well as his name and image are "consumed," both in terms of food and food imagery and in terms of British culinary culture. In the end, this tour affords students not only an intimate knowledge of the most famous writer in English but a clear understanding of Shakespeare’s relevance to their own lives—including at their own tables.
While based in Stratford-upon-Avon and focused primarily on consumption in Shakespeare’s plays, this course will also consider the importance of food and foodways in the creation of British literature and culture from the Renaissance through the present day. Starting with moments of material consumption and food imagery within Shakespeare’s texts, students will further consider consumption as a metaphor for writing and staging Renaissance drama as well as for producing and reading British novels, memoirs, and cookbooks. Even further, students will examine the workings of consumption in Stratford itself, from enjoying a cream tea on Henley Street (an anachronism, given that tea wasn’t a ritual in England until the 18th century) to partaking of high-end Indian food on Sheep Street (a post-colonial culinary experience). Included in the tour are lectures with world-renowned scholars, performances at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) and the Globe Theatrein London, talk-back sessions with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors, acting workshops with RSC facilitators, and visits to the five Shakespeare Trust museums, all of which will be linked to additional lectures, day trips, and writing assignments focused on the kitchen and table as dual loci of identity formation, both for individuals as well as for the British nation. As such, the tour will include, for instance, a session on Renaissance food and foodways, an afternoon at Mary Arden’s engaging in 17th-century farming techniques, and a display of original Renaissance cookbooks and herbals, among other events. Coursework covers pre-trip lectures at St. Mary’s campus for one week prior to leaving for England; once across the pond, group activities will last for 16 days, followed by a free weekend for further study or travel on an individual basis.