To gain a fuller understanding of Shakespeare's work, we will
study some major plays. All classes will be in English.
In the first class hour each week, beginning on the 5th week, students will present to the class, for about 10 minutes each, ideas about important aspects of the play set for that week, with a handout to help students follow the presentation. After that there will be a lecture. Students will then discuss the main themes of the play.
The Arden editions will be used for every play and each student must have read the play set for study each week. The section in the Introduction dealing with the play itself, and the section on the sources, should be read before any other critical studies.
A plot-summary of each play is available through the links below.
N.B. For those summaries which are in the file Shsum.htm you will find it easiest to copy the summaries you need (mark the text you need by dragging the mouse, then click on the right-hand button and choose 'Copy') and 'paste' them to a new page, in your word-processing program, then print. If you click 'print' when looking at Shsum.htm the whole, huge file will be printed, a big waste of time and paper.
Week 1 (Aug. 31)
Week 2 Introduction: Critical approaches to Shakespeare
Week 3 The Taming of the Shrew (video and discussion, class will run late)
Week 4 Richard III (video and discussion, class will run late)
Week 5 Romeo and Juliet
Week 6 The Merchant of Venice
Week 7 Henry IV part 1 & part 2
Week 8 Henry V (video and discussion, class will run late)
Week 9 Hamlet
Week 10 Macbeth
Week 11 King Lear
Week 12 Antony & Cleopatra
Week 13 Twelfth Night (video and discussion, class will run late)
Week 14 Troilus & Cressida
Week 15 The Tempest
Students must read the chapter on Shakespeare in Brother Anthony's "Renaissance" book during the vacation, and should also read the most important parts of the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies.
Dieter Mehl's Shakespeare's Tragedies: an Introduction (Cambridge) is most helpful on the tragedies. Equally helpful as an introduction is Alexander Leggatt's English Drama: Shakespeare to the Restoration, 1590-1660 (Longman) and The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama edited by Braunmuller and Hattaway.
When we watch a video, the rest of the class will focus on the following
questions, which demand comparison of the film with Shakespeare's text:
1. Which aspects of the original did the film mainly focus on?
2. Which aspects did the film ignore?
3. In which ways (if any) did the film add to the original play?
Written Assignments: each student will write
(1) a thoughtful report with good critical references on one comedy or history play.
(2) a similar report on one or more of the Major Tragedies.
The first report must be submitted at the 11th week class, the
is due at the end of the semester.