MEMS 367 - Shakespeare's Principal Plays
Winter 2023, Section 001 - Shakespeare?s Plays and the 1623 Folio
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS)
Department: LSA History
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/4/23 - 4/18/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


CHECK IT OUT - Video Course Description!

This is the first in a sequence of courses marking the four-hundredth anniversary of the publication of William Shakespeare’s 1623 Folio, the first collected edition of his plays. Throughout the semester, we will consider how the Folio shaped the posthumous reception of Shakespeare as a writer, and how its presentation of the plays have had an enduring impact on the Shakespeare canon. All of the plays we read will be situated to one degree or another with the Folio in mind. We will begin early in Shakespeare’s career with Romeo and Juliet and end with King Lear. Our classes will also explore the remarkable and lasting achievements that Shakespeare made on the page: his conjuring of enduring and indelible characters, his astounding development of images and metaphors, his playful experiments in tone and genre, and his poignant reflections on human failings and life more generally. In discussing the plays, each work will be paired with a larger set of questions, beyond the textual issues presented by the Folio. Thus, Romeo and Juliet will be presented in relation to the early modern period's fascination with the Neoplatonic theory of love, while Twelfth Night will be assessed with Renaissance theories of sex and gender in mind. Other topics with which we will engage will include philosophical skepticism (Hamlet), the so-called divine rights of kings (Henry the Fifth) and ethnic, racial, and religiously inflected conceptualizations of difference (The Merchant of Venice and Othello). In that Shakespeare routinely returns to certain topics again and again, we too will circle around these issues, including the institution of marriage, the bonds that constitute friendship and family, and the broader questions of what it means to think historically and nationalistically as a writer.

This course will satisfy the following English major/minor requirements: Pre-1642 + Poetry

Course Requirements:

Two papers will be assigned, with students being encouraged to engage with Shakespeare's works in ways that interest them. There is no midterm in this course; neither is there a final exam.

Class Format:

Lectures with discussion sections


MEMS 367 - Shakespeare's Principal Plays
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 8:30AM - 10:00AM
1/4/23 - 4/18/23
002 (DIS)
 In Person
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
1/4/23 - 4/18/23
003 (DIS)
 In Person
F 1:00PM - 2:00PM
1/4/23 - 4/18/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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