Nearly one third of his plays are set in Italy, and Shakespeare, being a great poet and dramatist, clearly did not write his plays on uninstructed impulse. He was fascinated by Italy, which was at that time the acknowledged cultural center of the western world.
Shakespeare's Italian plays depict different periods of time from the early moments of the Roman Republic through the decline of the Empire, to the height of the Italian Renaissance. The purpose of our travels in Italy is both to stimulate a genuine interest in literature, art and theology, and to raise certain main issues that are prominent in these fields. By studying Shakespeare's texts thoroughly, and also seeing the very places that formed the settings, contexts, and cultural backgrounds for these plays we gain a greater awareness of our Western heritage and a deeper understanding of Shakespeare's art.
Our students report that their reading comprehension improves markedly, and our hands-on careful writing instruction, they say, has been invaluable in improving their writing. SAT scores often jump, and students become more attractive to elite colleges, which see their foreign study as a sign of intellectual commitment and adventurous spirit. In less tangible ways, students report that their world opens up in startling new ways, discovering in both Shakespeare and Italy new ways of seeing, thinking, and understanding their own world.
In addition, students who participate in Shakespeare in Italy and later enroll as an undergraduate at the University of Dallas will be eligible for a $4,000 scholarship ($1,000 per academic year). Effective for study abroad program participants beginning in 2015.
Over the course of three weeks, students will read selections from Shakespeare's plays and from his sequence of sonnets, as well as study three complete plays in detail: Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew . Supporting readings will be drawn from a few of Europe's most thoughtful travelers to Italy such as Goethe and Henry James. Students will have the opportunity to perform Shakespeare in the places that inspired these great plays: in the Roman Forum, on the bridges of Venice and in the streets of Padua.
Many people travel to Italy; few do so thoughtfully. In order to ensure that our students reap a lasting benefit from their travels, we have built the program into a college course that awards three hours of credit. Students read, write, and think about their travels and their readings. Our program is not merely a tour, but is an intensive college course enhanced by travel, designed to help you deepen your intellect and broaden your understanding.
Unlike most study abroad programs, your classroom is Rome and the other cities and sites you will visit. You will see Ancient Roman sites such as the Forum and the Colosseum; Renaissance sites that spurred the art and literature of the age, including St. Peter's Basilica; Venetian sites featured in Shakespeare's plays like the Rialto Bridge, the Doge's Palace, and the first ghetto in Europe; and Baroque sites of marvel and wonder like the Borghese Museum. In addition you will travel into Rome almost every day, and take a short trip to Venice and Padua.
We work diligently on improving students' critical reading skills and we have nightly workshops in writing, pushing them to produce a thesis-driven persuasive paper by the end of the program.
Since 2014 we have had Stefan Novinski, drama professor and experienced professional director, to lead the students in thinking about Shakespeare as living drama. He works with the students to act out scenes, recite sonnets, and develop their confidence and ability in public speaking. It has transformed the program into an even more powerful experience!