Shakespeare in Italy

As far as we know, William Shakespeare never traveled to Italy. But the culture of Italy fascinated him. The dramatic action for one-third of all his plays takes place within an Italian setting, either ancient or contemporary.

From the lovelorn and feud-vexed streets of Romeo and Juliet’s Verona and the ancient Roman forum in which Julius Caesar was assassinated, to the frothy mix of sex, money, and intrigue of Shylock and Othello’s Venice, Shakespeare’s fascination with Italy inspired his work as a playwright. His Italian settings are so crucial to his plots that the locations themselves seem to have become characters in their own right. We ourselves will take inspiration from Shakespeare’s fascination with Italy, at that time the acknowledged cultural center of the western world. By studying his plays, we can expand our own horizons and our own perspectives, while learning about the context within which their action occurs. Italy beats at the heart of Shakespeare’s poetic and dramatic imagination.

In this course, we will read and discuss several of these Italian plays, watch clips from film adaptations of these plays to see modern variations on the action, and conclude with a close reading of Shakespeare’s finest play of all, The Tempest—which is set on an unknown island in the Mediterranean where some Machiavellian Italians from Milan and Naples are stranded along with Prospero, who is the most accomplished of all the characters who people the world (or Globe!) created by Shakespeare’s plays.



Monday, September 23, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Monday, September 30, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Monday, October 7, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Monday, October 14, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.



$125 ICCC Members | $150 General Admission


Meet Your Instructor

Dr. Dustin Gish is a Professor of Humanities and Political Philosophy in the Honors College at the University of Houston, where he has taught courses in political theory, philosophy, and literature since 2014. He received his interdisciplinary Ph.D. from the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas, and his M.A. in Liberal Education from St. John’s College (SF).

For a decade, Dr. Gish lived in Rome, Italy, and taught courses there at two American universities focused on ancient Roman civilization as well as on the art, history, and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance. He has published extensively on the plays of Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson and the American Founding, Xenophon’s Socrates, and the visual rhetoric of Italian civic republicanism.




Click here to become a member of the Italian Cultural & Community Center of Houston. As a member, you’ll receive special discounts on tickets to our events and language classes.

This course is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.