ENGL 225 A: Shakespeare

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
* *
Emily George

Syllabus Description:

English 225: Shakespeare’s Re-Visions

Instructor: Dr. Emily George                                                             

Email: ecg136@uw.edu

Office Hours: T/Th 10:30-11:30 or by appointment

Office Location: Zoom!

Course Description

Shakespeare is often presented as a monument within English literature, a unique and universal genius dominating the canon. But Shakespeare is also one part of a dynamic ecology of adaptations, responses, and re-contextualizations that challenge this supposed singularity. In this class, we will study Shakespeare the adapter and Shakespeare the adapted. Using Measure for Measure, Macbeth, Richard II, and Pericles, we will study how stories have been reimagined through performance, through print, through translation, through re-writing—and consider how these adaptations form a mutual, evolving exchange of questioning and critique.

This class will include a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous work. We will meet as a whole class once a week, on Mondays from 12:30-2:20 Pacific Time. However, I know many of you may be taking classes in different time zones or face other inhibitions due to the current pandemic and may be unable to make synchronous meetings. If that is the case, you are still welcome in this class! We can make other arrangements together for how you can participate.

The class will include lecture, discussion, and written assignments. This is a “W” course, meaning that it is writing-intensive and will count toward your “W” credits. 

Course Goals

  1. Close Reading: Increase your ability to independently and collaboratively engage with and interpret complex texts. Close reading is a form of reading that requires slow, focused, and rigorous attention and analysis to a small text. In the case of long works like the plays we will read in this class, that often means short excerpts, like a single speech or a few lines of dialogue. Close reading encompasses a lot, but briefly, it involves reading the text multiple times (silently, aloud, with assigned parts, while an audio version plays, while its performed, etc.) and thinking first about content and literal meaning; then, thinking about aspects like language, imagery, sound (for example, rhyme or alliteration), repetition, etc.; then, using what you notice about the details of the passage to make a claim about the significance of those details in understanding and interpreting the passage and the work as a whole. We will be practicing close reading in and out of class, individually and in groups, throughout the quarter, and you will be asked to write informal close readings and more formal essays that rely on close reading.
  2. Historicize and Contextualize: Analyze the impacts and consequences of history and context on literary texts—and the impacts and consequences of literary texts on the social imaginary. Rather than approaching Shakespeare as an author of ‘universal’ stories, we will consider the specific historical, cultural, religious, and political milieu of early modern English drama and Shakespeare’s place within that context. How do literary works like the plays we are reading relate to their historical contexts, and why are those relationships important? How do the stories and characters in literature reflect and impact the ways people imagine the world?
  3. Improve writing skills generally, and with regard to writing about literature and culture in particular. In this class, you will write near-weekly informal assignments and three formal assignments. These assignments will build on each other to help you develop and practice writing that carefully analyzes literary texts, uses textual evidence to craft complex and arguable claims, and engages thoughtfully and productively with feedback.

Course Materials

  • Folger editions of:
    Richard II
    Measure for Measure
    I recommend getting print editions—they’re about $10 each—but you can also get online Folger editions for free. I will post links on Canvas.
  • Jiehae Park, peerless, Samuel French Acting Edition. Available through the UW bookstore, or about $10 online
  • Measure (Still) for Measure, available on Canvas
  • Other readings will be posted to the Canvas website
  • Regular access to the Canvas website and to your UW email.



In this course, we are using a grade contract system so that grading is transparent and values your labor and learning rather than emphasizing meeting a particular “standard.” You can find the grade contract obligations here. We will discuss this as a class and you will routinely keep track of your grade through your labor log, so you should know precisely what your grade is in the course at any given time. If you ever have questions about the grade contract, please let me know!


Late Policy

If you submit your assignments on time, it is easier for me to get them back to you in a timely manner, and it is also easier for you to move on to the next assignment having gained skills and experience from the previous assignment. Therefore, I hope you will make your best effort to submit all assignments on time. However, I also understand that this isn’t always possible for a variety of reasons. Therefore:

  • You may use a 48-hour extension for any assignments (see exceptions in the next bullet) that you are not able to complete on time. To use this extension and ensure your assignment will not be marked late, you can email me any time before the assignment is due to let me know you are using an extension. As long as you’ve done this, your assignment will not be marked late.

    • Exceptions: Because our course includes many opportunities for peer review, and students receive credit for performing peer reviews for each other, your classmates will be relying on you to complete assignments labeled rough drafts and the final project on time. Therefore, the 48-hour extension does not apply to rough drafts or the final project. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact me so we can find a solution. Otherwise, these two types of assignments will be exempt from the blanket extension policy.
  • If you are unable to complete an assignment within the 48-hour extension window, please email me to set up a Zoom meeting to meet with me so we can work together on a plan to help you catch up on your coursework. This meeting is required for extensions beyond 48 hours.
  • If you are having trouble with Canvas or if you are worried that your assignment didn’t attach, you can always email me your assignment in addition to submitting it on Canvas in order to avoid submitting your assignment late.


Class Expectations and Guidelines for Discussion

You will be working within small groups, peer review pairings, and the whole class throughout the quarter. Disagreement can be productive, and scholars in all fields depend on disagreement to strengthen their arguments, discover errors, and challenge their own thinking. You may find that some of the topics and discussions in this class will cause you discomfort. This is normal, expected, and, in fact, crucial to your learning. Engaging with complexity--through history, art, literature, politics, cultural studies, your own research and writing--is a difficult labor, and difficult labor is often uncomfortable. 

However, in order for conflict to be productive, it must be respectful. Personal attacks, disrespectful language, and disrespectful behavior have no place in the class, and will not be tolerated. If debates or discussions get intense or heated, remember that it is difficult to know the backgrounds, experiences, emotions, and beliefs of others in the room, and be sensitive to that. Be generous with others and try to assume good intentions. Keep your responses specific to the topic under discussion. You are expected to use language and action that shows respect for gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, and ability in order to create a safe and welcoming class.

Guidelines for Class and Small Group Discussion

  • Listen carefully to others, and do not attempt to respond before they’ve finished what they have to say.
  • When someone else is talking, try not to focus on how you disagree or the way you want to reply. Instead, focus completely on what they’re trying to communicate until they finish.
  • Stay on topic and connect what you have to say with the readings and/or with what others have said.
  • Write down your thoughts so you can return to them.
  • Ask follow-up questions of others, and try to repeat your understanding of what they’ve said as part of that follow up.
  • Speak up with a willingness to discover you're wrong.
  • Try not to dominate conversations. Make sure everyone in your group is included, and invite others to speak.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.

Note from Emily—If you are confused or unsure about whether or not something you want to do would be considered plagiarism, please talk to me about it! I won’t penalize you for not knowing. Sometimes plagiarism is something obvious, like copying someone else’s essay, but sometimes it can get trickier, like paraphrasing, citing information/ideas and not just quotes, etc. Likewise, if you are feeling so much pressure or confusion that you’re thinking about plagiarizing, talk to me. Plagiarizing can have huge consequences for your grade and your academic future, and we can come up with a solution that’s better than taking that risk.

Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at https://registrar.washington.edu/staffandfaculty/religious-accommodations-policy/ (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form: https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request. (Links to an external site.)

English Departmental Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Justice

The UW English Department aims to help students become more incisive thinkers, effective communicators, and imaginative writers by acknowledging that language and its use are powerful and hold the potential to empower individuals and communities; to provide the means to engage in meaningful conversation and collaboration across differences and with those with whom we disagree; and to offer methods for exploring, understanding, problem solving, and responding to the many pressing collective issues we face in our world--skills that align with and support the University of Washington’s mission to educate “a diverse student body to become responsible global citizens and future leaders through a challenging learning environment informed by cutting-edge scholarship.”

As a department, we begin with the conviction that language and texts play crucial roles in the constitution of cultures and communities, past, present, and future.  Our disciplinary commitments to the study of English (its history, multiplicity, and development; its literary and artistic uses; and its global role in shaping and changing cultures) require of us a willingness to engage openly and critically with questions of power and difference. As such, in our teaching, service, and scholarship we frequently initiate and encourage conversations about topics such as race and racism, immigration, gender, sexuality, class, indigeneity, and colonialisms. These topics are fundamental to the inquiry we pursue.  We are proud of this fact, and we are committed to creating an environment in which our faculty and students can do so confidently and securely, knowing that they have the backing of the department.  We acknowledge that to study and engage the English language is to grapple with its imperialist and colonialist history, its relationship to power and whiteness, its involvement in the spread of globalization and in perpetuating inequity, as well as its creative uses to imagine and bring into existence a better world.

Towards that aim, we value the inherent dignity and uniqueness of individuals and communities. We acknowledge that our university is located on the shared lands and waters of the Coast Salish peoples. We aspire to be a place where human rights are respected and where any of us can seek support. This includes people of all ethnicities, faiths, gender identities, national and indigenous origins, political views, and citizenship status; nontheists; LGBQTIA+; those with disabilities; veterans; and anyone who has been targeted, abused, or disenfranchised.


If you have any concerns about the course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the following Expository Writing Program staff in Padelford A-11: Director Candice Rai, (206) 543-2190 or crai@uw.edu or Associate Director of Writing Programs, Michelle Liu, msmliu@uw.edu. If, after speaking with the Director of the EWP, you are still not satisfied with the response you receive, you may contact English Department Chair, Anis Bawarshi; bawarshi@uw.edu, (206) 543-2690.


Zoom, Canvas, Class Privacy and Recording Policies

This course will make use of Zoom and Canvas. It is essential you have access to these resources. If you are struggling to navigate or use these resources, please reach out to me as soon as possible. We can email or speak on the phone—whatever is most helpful. 

Privacy:  I understand that many of you will not be in your usual school environments this term, and that you may be sharing space with family, roommates, and/or children.  If at all possible, please find as private a space as possible or use headphones when you are participating in Zoom class sessions, watching recorded lectures, or viewing course films and video clips. This course is designed for adults, and we may have discussions that could be disturbing for young children.  I also want everyone in class to feel free to express their ideas in the spirit of shared learning without worrying about who may be overhearing what they say.

Recording Policy: Zoom meetings of this course may be recorded. I will also periodically share brief lecture videos with you for you to watch asynchronously. Any recordings will only be available to students registered for this class. Recordings may not be reproduced, shared with those not in the class, or uploaded to other online environments.

Zoom Tips

  1. You can change your name in Zoom by going to your Zoom profile and clicking "edit" next to your name.  Feel free to change your name to accurately reflect the name you want to be called.  You can also add your pronouns in parentheses after your last name.  For example, my Zoom name as it appears during Zoom sessions is Alex Smith (she/her).
  2. You can add or change your Zoom avatar/picture (the image that appears when you turn off your Zoom video) by going to your Zoom profile and clicking "change" under the blank photo box next to your name.
  3. At the beginning of every Zoom session, after entering the meeting and saying hello to confirm that your microphone is working, it's helpful if you mute your microphone (using the far left button) to eliminate extra background noise, especially if there are sounds in your environment that could be distracting for the class.  You can find out more about attendee controls here:  https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/200941109-Attendee-Controls-in-a-Meeting (Links to an external site.)
  4. During our meetings, you can raise your hand by clicking on "Participants" in the control bar (see image above) and then clicking "Raise Hand."  This is especially useful when I’m sharing my screen and can’t see you as well.
  5. If you have a question or comment during class that you don’t want to say out loud, you can use the chat function in Zoom to send your question/comment to the whole class or just to me.  We'll experiment as a class with different ways to use the chat function and decide as a group which features are useful and which are too distracting.

Canvas Tips

  1. You can change your name in Canvas by clicking on your profile picture at the top of the far left menu in Canvas.  Click “Edit Profile.” You will then be able to change your name and add your pronouns if you would like.
  2. You can change your profile picture/avatar in Canvas in the same place. When you’re editing your profile, hover over your picture and click the pencil icon. You can then upload a new picture.
  3. To send a message to a member of the class (including me), first click on your Canvas inbox in the far left menu. Then click the “compose a new message” button on the top right of the screen. Choose our course and then choose either “Teachers” (if you want to send a message to me) or “Students” (if you want to send a message to one or more students in our class). You will then be given the option to select specific recipients.
  4. Use Modules to navigate our course. The first module contains course information and resources.  All of the other modules are organized by weeks. Always start with the “Overview” page for each week, which lists all reading, viewing, and writing assignments and includes an overview of the material we will cover that week. 

Course Calendar

The first thing you should complete is the module for "Before We Begin". This will provide an overview of the course, link you to valuable resources, provide information about how grades will work in the class, and ask you to complete an intro survey, post to the discussion board, and practice other aspects of virtual learning. Many of you will find aspects of this familiar, since you have done online courses in the past, but this module is required so that we are all prepared for the rest of the course.

Catalog Description: 
Introduces Shakespeare's career as dramatist, with study of representative comedies, tragedies, romances, and history plays.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
January 27, 2021 - 11:00pm