This course will focus on Shakespeare's tragedies, seeing them both as documents that reveal the complexity of Renaissance culture and as important cultural symbols after Shakespeare's time. We will analyze the language, style, and the form of the plays, and the ways in which they reflect the political and social obsessions of early modern England. At the same time, we will also consider some of the editorial, critical, and theatrical traditions of interpreting the tragedies from the eighteenth century to our own time. Plays to be read will include Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, and Coriolanus. We will also sample neoclassical, Romantic, New Critical, post-structuralist, and feminist readings of the tragedies, consider variant texts for selected plays, and compare some film performances. Writing assignments will include several short papers and a research paper.