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Seminar Leaders: John W. Mahon (Iona College) and Richard Nochimson (Yeshiva University)
Troilus and Cressida: The Plague of Opinion
In this essay I discuss Troilus and Cressida as it is illuminated by the reception and literary appropriation of skepticism in late-Elizabethan England. Focusing on moments of persuasion and protestation, I examine the routine and often-unspoken assumptions of the play's characters. In particular I'm interested in the assumptions held by the lovers, for instance the view expressed by Troilus that "persuasion" itself cannot convince him that Cressida's love--or that of any other woman--might equal his own. Where do such views originate? Why does Shakespeare single them out? How do they relate to the explicit arguments and actions of the play? To what extent do they condition choice and consequence? The terminal ineffectuality of persuasion in this play seems intimately related to the prevalence of unyielding opinion and assumption, and it is this connection that I seek to explore. William M. Hamlin (Washington State University)
The Disappearing Heroine
Helena and Cressida are both radically conflicted characters. Helena is torn between …