Shakespearean Insights at VIS

Exploring 'The Merchant of Venice' with Dr. Stephen Greenblatt


Vienna International School recently had the distinct honor of hosting an enlightening and engaging Q&A session featuring Dr. Stephen Greenblatt, a prominent American scholar, Shakespeare historian, and accomplished author. Dr. Greenblatt holds the esteemed position of Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, making his insights particularly valuable in the realm of literature and education.

During this captivating session, Dr. Greenblatt had the privilege of interacting with Ms. Ceman's senior English Language and Literature class, a group of perceptive Grade 12 students. The focal point of their discussion was the timeless literary work, "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare. Dr. Greenblatt skillfully delved into the intricate tapestry of this play, exploring both its aesthetic allure and the complex challenges it presents when taught in the context of contemporary society.

One of the key takeaways from this enriching conversation was Dr. Greenblatt's emphasis on the profound importance of addressing uncomfortable yet critical questions surrounding issues of identity, racism, and prejudice within the narrative of "The Merchant of Venice." By encouraging students to confront these sensitive topics head-on, Dr. Greenblatt underscored the transformative potential of literature in fostering a deeper understanding of the human experience and the intricacies of societal dynamics.

What made this session even more remarkable was the participation of the English Department from the International School of Brussels, transcending geographical boundaries to create a truly cross-border collaborative initiative. This initiative reflects a shared commitment to promoting the core objectives of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which include internationalization, quality education, and equity. Such collaborative efforts not only enrich the educational experiences of students but also exemplify the power of global cooperation in advancing knowledge and cultural exchange.

The Q&A session with Dr. Stephen Greenblatt at Vienna International School served as a thought-provoking exploration of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" in the context of today's world. It not only celebrated the enduring relevance of Shakespearean literature but also highlighted the importance of tackling challenging societal issues through education, fostering international collaboration, and upholding the ideals of the IB program. This event undoubtedly left a lasting impression on both students and educators, inspiring them to continue engaging with literature as a means of addressing the complexities of our contemporary society.