The following are courses that have been offered or are usually offered by the Department of English and the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre as they relate to Shakespeare.
Shakespeare and Film
This course explores the phenomenon of Shakespeare and film, concentrating on the ranges of meaning provoked by the conjunction. We shall be looking at examples of films of Shakespeare plays both early and recent, both in English and in other languages, and both ones that stick close to conventionalized and historicized conceptualizations of Shakespeare and adaptations at varying degrees of distance towards the erasure of Shakespeare from the text. The transposition of different forms of Shakespearean textualities (printed, theatrical, filmic) and the confrontation with the specificities of film produce a cultural phenomenon whose cultural meanings—meaning as Shakespeare and meaning as film—will be the subject of our investigations. There will be regular (though not necessarily weekly) screenings of the films to be studied.
Shakespeare: Editing & Performing
You pick up a copy of Shakespeare - but what is the object you are holding? This course will explore the history, theory and practice of editing Shakespeare as an example of the complex issues in editing literary/dramatic texts. From the work of early modern printers, through the tradition of 18th century editions (Rowe to Malone), towards current, 21st century editorial practice and the future of online/print editions, we will investigate how practice has shaped theory and vice versa. In particular, we will be concerned with the problematics of the representation of performance (early, recent, possible) in text/paratext/commentary. Work required will include editing segments of Shakespeare plays (generating text, collation, commentary), attending performance(s) as well as experimenting with possible new ways in which a Shakespeare edition might be conceived and, of course, writing a substantial research paper.
ENGL 13186: 03
University Literature Seminar
Shakespeare’s Major Tragedies
This course will examine the four tragedies upon which Shakespeare’s reputation most securely rests: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Our objectives will be to acquire an in-depth knowledge of Shakespeare’s four major tragedies; to become familiar with early modern English and develop an appreciation of the importance of linguistic history; to examine tragedy as a dramatic genre, as an experience, and as a cultural preoccupation; and to learn about Shakespeare’s age and his cultural legacy. Along with our modern editions of Shakespeare, we will read Christopher Haigh’s Elizabeth I and a number of recent scholarly essays. Work will include several short written assignments, a midterm, a final, and a paper of 7-10 pages.
In this course we will read, in roughly chronological order, the plays from the second half of Shakespeare’s career as dramatist. Beginning with Julius Caesar and concluding with Two Noble Kinsmen, we will cover nineteen plays over the course of the semester. Though we will read several comedies, the syllabus is dominated by the mature tragedies — Hamlet, Othello, Lear, and Macbeth — and late romances — Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. This course is paired with Shakespeare I (Fall 2008), which covers the first half of the Shakespeare canon (though Shakespeare I is not a prerequisite for this course). Requirements will include a midterm, a final, several passage analyses, and one 5–7 page paper.
The Renaissance Imagination: Thinking with Shakespeare and Spenser
This course focuses intensely on two of the Renaissance period's most influential writers -- William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser. Both writers reflect on the work that fiction can do in addressing the deepest desires and fears; both theorize the imagination's powers as well as its distortions and limitations. Both writers are also deeply concerned with the processes of interpretation that are at the heart of the English major. Good readers of Spenser and Shakespeare promise to be good readers of much else: through a careful study of these writers, students will learn to reflect carefully on their own reading and interpretive processes, as well as on the capacities and horizons of imaginative writing. Texts will include The Faerie Queene as well as a selection of Shakespeare's plays -- probably Henry V, As You Like It, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale. Major assignments will include short response pieces, a brief performance assignment, one longer paper, and a final exam.
Shakespeare and Political Theory
This course uses Shakespeare as the focal point for an inquiry into the relationship between literature and political theory, broadly understood. We will read a range of plays across the major genres—The Merchant of Venice, Richard II, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Othello, Cymbeline, The Tempest—in order to consider how Shakespeare manages the following topics: the tension between retribution and the rule of law, the nature of political community and the limits of pluralism, the emergent idea of the nation, the limits of human dignity and the political character of the household. We will thicken our inquiry by pairing a few of the plays with contemporary legal or literary works: Othello with Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North, Measure for Measure with Lawrence v. Texas (2004), The Merchant of Venice with R. vs. JFS School (2009), The Tempest with Shakespeare Behind Bars. Course Text will be The Complete Pelican Shakespeare, eds. Orgel and Braunmuller.
Acting Shakespeare is an active and participatory exploration of the performance of one of the world’s greatest playwrights. This course will introduce the actor to vocal, physical and analytical techniques and exercises in order to bring contemporary immediacy to heightened classical text. Extensive preparation outside of class, including work with partners, is expected. Journal writing will be required to encourage critical and observational processes and allow the instructor to gauge student development.
Classical Text and Technique
This course introduces actors and directors to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by working with classical text. Students will combine research with practical explorations of historical acting and directing techniques in order to create truthful and believable performances for contemporary audiences. Dramatic texts used in this course may include those from the classical Greek period, Shakespeare and his Elizabethan and Jacobean contemporaries, and Restoration comedies among others. Students will have the opportunity to prepare, cast and rehearse monologues and/or scenes inside and outside of class that will culminate in an end-of-semester showcase performance. This course is appropriate for all students interested in performing themselves and/or guiding the performance of others.