Welcome to the world of Twelfth Night, Or What You Will.  We will look into how and why this drama has enchanted audiences for over 400 years.  Twelfth Night is a fast-paced romantic comedy with several interwoven plots of love, vengeful practical jokes, and mistaken identities. 

Separated from her twin brother, Sebastian, in a shipwreck, Viola disguises herself as a boy, calls herself Cesario, and becomes a servant to the Duke Orsino. He sends her to woo the Countess Olivia on his behalf, but the Countess falls in love with Cesario – while Cesario secretly falls hard for Orsino! Meanwhile, Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch, carouses with his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and they put one over on Malvolio, Olivia’s stick-in-the-mud steward. Eventually Sebastian turns up and causes even more confusion and chaos. This galloping summary might well make Twelfth Night seem like a typical situation comedy. In fact it does contain elements of both modern rom-com and musical theater.  Funny and full of seemingly madcap characters, it has remained one of the most popular and admired of all of Shakespeare’s plays.  But remember: this is Shakespeare. There’s plenty more going on beneath the silly surface. Deep, shadowy emotions set off those bright spots of hilarity.  The characters leave lots of room for debate. Still, the beautifully poignant happy ending resolves all conflicts…or does it?  We look forward to exploring Twelfth Night together.  Whether or not you have seen or studied this play, this course is for you.

Feedback from John’s last course partnership:

“Superb book and superbly presented. I believe all of us in the class deepened our knowledge of US history from taking this class! Bravissimo!”

“Very well envisioned class.  Readings were extensive, 100 letters of Abigail and John Adams, but quality of letters was an incentive to continue reading. Also to note how the letters morphed and intensified over time. John Miller provided context and encouraged discussion, and Karen Kaludis, in her debut with CF, contributed humor, whimsy and insight. A winning combination.”

“I learned so much from the discussions.  From knowing nothing about the Adams, I have gained a lot of insight on what their lives were about.  My classmates were so very knowledgeable that it enhanced the discussions.”


John Miller Ph.D.

John H. Miller, Ph.D., has taught literature courses at both secondary and college levels, including American Literature at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France, under a Fulbright Fellowship. He has also taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Washington College, American University, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Academy for Lifelong Learning. Given his interest in things maritime he taught a course on literature of the sea as Visiting Lecturer and member of the University of Virginia’s faculty on two separate round the world voyages with UVA’s “Semester at Sea” program. John is also involved in several local non-profit organizations, currently serving as President of Allegro Academy, and board officer of Chesapeake Forum. John earned his Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh, with a BA from Yale.

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