We will read a representative group of dramatic works by William Shakespeare, including plays from all four genres to which he contributed: comedy, tragedy, history plays, and romance. These works have become the touchstones of all that we treasure in the western literary canon, and we will pay considerable attention to the features that have made them so, but they did not function primarily as literary artifacts in their own era, nor was the popular drama considered to be an entirely respectable form of entertainment. We will consider the political and social circumstances in which the vital and unprecedented popular theater of early modern England emerged, as well as the practical components of Renaissance stagecraft. Plays likely to be on our syllabus are: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Henry IV, Part One; Twelfth Night; Hamlet; Othello; King Lear; The Tempest. Midterm, final exam, frequent quizzes, five in-class writing assignments. practical components of Renaissance stagecraft.
Student contributions will include regular attendance and participation at lecture and discussion sessions, frequent quizzes, two essays, a midterm and a final.