English 410/510: Shakespeare

Cr. 3


This survey of ten or so of Shakespeare's plays samples from Shakespeare's comedies, romances, tragedies, and histories, with particular attention to the political, religious, and cultural contexts in which the plays were written. In considering such contexts, the course examines the difference between various printed versions of selected plays. Additionally, the course allows for the viewing of at least two plays on video or, when possible, for the viewing of a play onstage. At least once in the semester, as well, the course includes a play by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries. Assignments include a short (four to five page) and a longer (eight to ten page) paper, a final exam, presentations to the class and subsequent reports on a cultural, literary, or historical issue pertinent to Shakespeare's drama, and periodic responses to the reading via electronic format (blog or message forums).


The course will undertake a careful analysis of seven or eight of Shakespeare's plays. We will attempt to cover the full range of Shakespeare's dramatic achievement with samplings from various Shakespearean genres like romantic, comedy, history plays, etc. His achievement will be explored with special attention to the cultural, political, religious, and theatrical context within which these plays are written and to which they respond. Since the plays are written for performance and since the text is transformed as it moves from the page to the stage, we will view at least three plays on videotape.

Our classroom conversation will be extended by use of e-mail. I will post topics for discussion on a notebook which will be created for the course. Other requirements will include oral presentations and panel presentations, a short paper (three to five pages), a long paper (seven to nine pages), and a final exam.