Spring 2019 Shakespeare W.R. Streitberger
TuTh 11:30-1:20 English 225a streitwr@
Texts: I have ordered The Complete Works of Shakespeare, 7th edition, ed. David Bevington (Pearson, 2014). In our class sessions I will refer to introductions in this work, and I will also ask you to read much of the general introduction. Earlier editions of this work are acceptable; other editions are not.
On occasion you will want to look up definitions of literary terms. Literary encyclopedias and handbooks are available in the reference section of the library and on line. The best recent study of Shakespeare’s life is Park Honan’s Shakespeare, A Life (Oxford 1998). The essays in Richard Dutton, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre (Oxford, 2011) provide extensive discussions of Elizabethan theaters, acting companies, and plays in cultural context. These books are available from the library and from the bookstore. Additional background reading will be found in the summaries and bibliographies in our class text.
The Course: We will be concerned with close reading and discussion of plays representative of Shakespeare’s entire career. We will include two romantic comedies, a tragicomedy, a revenge tragedy, an English history play, and a romance. We will begin with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing before moving on to Henry V, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, and The Tempest. Our focus will be on the artistry in Shakespeare’s texts—the use of language and poetry, the ideas of dramatic construction, the conception of genre, the conception of gender, the idea of theater, the impact of education on choice and treatment of subjects, the history of the texts, and criticism of his works.
Requirements: (1) For each 50 minute class period I will assign reading and provide leading questions about it. Your job is to come to class fully prepared to discuss those questions. I will call on students to report on them, and from four to six times during the quarter I will ask you to choose one of the questions as the subject of a 25 minute essay (40%). You may choose any of the questions assigned for that class period. I will allow you to make up one of these essays if you are absent or unprepared, but only one.
(2) Two exams consisting of multiple choice and short answer or short essay questions that test your understanding of how to discuss passages from Shakespeare’s works, of the secondary readings in Bevington’s text, and of the material in lectures and class discussions (40%). The exams will require careful and thorough preparation. Do not underestimate the level of detail you are expected to retain or the difficulty of the exams.
(3) Three page written report on your film adaptation of The Tempest (20%)
This a lecture-discussion course. My job is to lecture. Your job is to actively participate in discussions Reading aloud and discussion are important components of the course and participation is required of all students. You must bring your text to every class session.