To gain a fuller understanding of Shakespeare's work, we will
study some major plays. All classes will be entirely in English.
For the first 7 weeks we will do some general studies, looking at some
Beginning on the 8th week, we will spend 2 weeks each studying a small number of plays. In the first week, we will look in detail at the text of the play. At the start of each class from the 4th week, 2 students will each present to the class, for about 15 minutes each, 2 major critical interpretations of the week's play.
Students will then discuss the play. Each student will write up their presentation into a full report.
The Arden editions will be used and each student must have read the play set for study each week. The section in the Introduction dealing with the play itself, and the section on the sources, should be read before any other critical studies. A plot-summary of each play is available through the links below.
Week 1 Introduction: Approaches to Shakespeare
Week 2 The Taming of the Shrew
Week 3 Romeo and Juliet
Week 4 Richard II
Week 5 A Midsummer Night's Dream
Week 6 Twelfth Night
Week 7 Julius Caesar
Week 8 Hamlet the text
Week 9 Hamlet interpretations
Week 10 Macbeth the text
Week 11 Macbeth interpretations
Week 12 King Lear the text
Week 13 King Lear interpretations
Week 14 Othello the text
Week 15 Othello interpretations
Students must read the chapter on Shakespeare in Brother Anthony's "Renaissance" book during the vacation, and should also read the most important parts of the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies. Dieter Mehl's Shakespeare's Tragedies: an Introduction (Cambridge) is most helpful on the tragedies. Equally helpful as an introduction is Alexander Leggatt's English Drama: Shakespeare to the Restoration, 1590-1660 (Longman) and The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama edited by Braunmuller and Hattaway.
Written Assignments: each student will write
(1) An expansion of the class presentation with comparison of 2 critical approaches to one play.
(2) A similar study of one other play by Shakespeare, using at least 4 critics, chosen from those plays studied during this course.
The first report must be submitted 2 weeks after the student's class presentation, the second is due at the end of the semester.