This class requires a good deal of writing and has exacting standards for
written work. Indeed, English 105 (or equivalent) is a prerequisite. Please
do not sign up for or continue in the course unless you are willing and able
to do the work. At the same time, I am happy to help those who are serious
and who make a concerted effort.
In order to succeed, you will will find it wise to do the following:
Read all the plays completely in a standard edition.
Read all of the content pages in this WebCT course.
Read all the posts from the members of your discussion group.
See at least one video tape of each play.
This class will include a survey of major plays and sorts of plays written
by Shakespeare. We will cover comedy (Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth
Night), history (Richard III), tragedy (Hamlet and Macbeth), and romance
(The Tempest). Along with other topics, we will discuss characterization,
theme, language, performance variation, and literary as well as historical
backgrounds for each play. See examples of questions to be discussed below.
What sort of person is Prospero in The Tempest? How do his
interactions with his daughter and his brother help to explain his character?
What is Shakespeare trying to say in Macbeth? If the play is intended to
show the triumph of good over evil, why is Macbeth so sympathetically depicted?
Why does Malcolm, a good character, make such a bad joke in suggesting that
he will abuse his powers should he become king?
How are "you," "thee," and "thou" used in the scene where Richard in Richard
III woos Lady Anne?
How does the performance of Mel Gibson in Hamlet compare with that of Sir
Laurence Olivier in the same play?
How do marriage laws and customs in Renaissance England help us to understand
what is taking place in Midsummer Night's Dream?
How does Richard III compare with other literary villains, in particular