To gain a fuller understanding of Shakespeare's work, we will
study some major plays. All classes will be entirely in English.
For the first 7 weeks we will do some general studies, looking at some
Beginning on the 8th week, we will spend 2 weeks each studying
a small number of plays. In the first week, we will look in detail at the
text of the play.
At the start of each class from the 4th week, 2 students
will each present to the class, for about 15 minutes each, their personal responses to 2 major critical
interpretations of the week's play.
Students will then discuss the play.
The New Cambridge editions will be used 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.
Week 1 Introduction: Approaches to Shakespeare
Week 2 The Taming of the Shrew (From 1:30 pm we will watch the video and then discuss whether the play -- or the movie -- is anti-feminist)
Week 3 Romeo and Juliet (From 1:30 pm we will watch the video, then discuss why the play has become such a cultural icon)
Week 4 A Merchant of Venice (From 1:30 pm we will watch (most of) the video then discuss whether Shylock is to be seen as an anti-Semitic caricature)
Week 5 A Midsummer Night's Dream
Week 6 No class
Week 7 Julius Caesar
Week 8 Hamlet the text
Week 9 Hamlet interpretations
Week 10 Henry V the text
Week 11 Henry V interpretations
Week 12 Twelfth Night the text
Week 13 Twelfth Night the video and interpretations
Week 14 The Tempest
Week 15 Final discussion on
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
Tragedies: an Introduction (Cambridge) is most helpful on the tragedies.
Equally helpful as an introduction is Alexander Leggatt's
Shakespeare to the Restoration, 1590-1660 (Longman) and The Cambridge
Companion to English Renaissance Drama edited by Braunmuller and Hattaway. And Many More . . .
Written Assignments: each student will write
(1) An expansion of the class presentation with a developed response to and evaluation of 2 critical approaches to one play.
(2) A study of one other play by Shakespeare studied in class, referring to the interpretations of at least 4 critics.
The first report must be submitted 2 weeks after the student's class presentation, the second is due at the end of the semester.