The Language of Shakespeare
To read the works of Shakespeare, we must return to the world and words of Early Modern England. Relishing Shakespeare's plays requires us to examine the word-play, the dialect politics, and the general celebration of language that the Early Modern stage encouraged. This class provides an introduction to the plays of Shakespeare in conjunction with the language of late sixteenth-century England. When did one use "thou" or "thee"? Why do "prove" and "love" rhyme? Why does Shakespeare's grammar seem so different than our own? We will consider the sounds and meanings of words, the construction of sentences, and the dialect representation that give such a rich texture to Shakespeare's work. Readings include Twelfth Night, Love's Labor's Lost, Henry V, King Lear, and some accompanying linguistic/cultural material on Early Modern England. No previous experience with Shakespeare or language study is necessary; enthusiasm for the plays is the only prerequisite.