(sub)TEXT: The Emptiness of Signification in Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” (Part 1)

When King Leontes accuses his pregnant wife of adultery, the nobleman Antigonus assumes that Leontes has been “abused and by some putter-on”—in other words, some Iago-like villain has been putting malevolent ideas into his head. In fact, Leontes is the father of his own misconceptions, just as he is the father of his wife’s children. But unlike his children, his ideas might be said to have no mother; they lack corroboration, which is to say, collaboration with a source outside himself. How, then, do we account for the seemingly spontaneous generation of his thoughts? How can false apprehensions arise out of nothing? And what price must one pay for bearing these misconceptions, these “nothings,” into the world? In this episode, the first part of a six part discussion, Wes & Erin discuss one of Shakespeare’s last plays, “The Winter’s Tale.”

Thanks to our sponsor for this episode, St. John’s College. Learn more about undergraduate–and graduate–Great Books programs at St. John’s in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Annapolis, Maryland at sjc.edu/subtext.

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