Half a millennia after he finished writing, William Shakespeare is the world’s most influential and widely studied playwright. This course examines some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays in order to help explain why this might be. The course provides an introduction to Shakespeare’s drama as well as the historical, literary, theatrical, and philosophical contexts in which it was written. We will explore Shakespeare’s construction of character, his use of language, and his theatrical technique in order to get a better understanding of the ongoing life of his plays. But we will also look at how critics, readers, and theatre practitioners have interpreted and re-interpreted his works over the centuries. Students will be encouraged to develop their own readings of the plays during the course.
Assessment: 100% coursework.
The course will examine: the tragic genre, dramatic character, poetic drama and language, early modern theatrical practice, early modern history, and the critical tradition.
The purpose of this course is to improve students’ skills of literary analysis while introducing them to Shakespeare’s dramatic works. The course is designed to heighten understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s language as well as to encourage students to grapple with challenging questions of textual interpretation.
We will meet once a week for three hours. The class will be made up of formal lectures, group work, and class discussions. Each week different students will present a short discussion paper on a particular aspect of a play. There will also be one or two short in-class written exercises throughout the semester.
Class Attendance and Participation – 10%
In-Class Exercises and Presentations – 20%
Mid-Term Paper – 25%
Final Paper – 45%
To be determined closer to the date