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Topics in Shakespeare

ENGL 235.301
instructor(s):
MW 3-4:30 Screenings R 4:30-6:30

This course combines Shakespeare's plays with films based (and more often than not, loosely based) on those plays. Rather than advancing claims about how "true" a rendition any one of these films presents, this course asks two central questions. To what end do these films borrow from, tamper with, or perpetrate the cultural authority of Shakespeare? How do particular interests -- technical, national, economic -- stage or envision the seeming universality of these Shakespearean performance narratives? These questions are designed to challenge our assumptions, if only temporarily, about the unified integrity of original source texts, and to encourage us instead to imagine these texts as parts of a many-headed Shakespearean monster. Our readings and viewing will be grouped according to the following section headings: Epic History and the Hollywood "star system," "On the Road" by William Shakespeare, The Globe in Global Cinema, Affects and F/X. Plays will include Henry IV parts 1 and 2, Macbeth, The Tempest, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, and Measure for Measure. Films will include Chimes at Midnight, My Own Private Idaho, To Be Or Not To Be, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Throne of Blood, Forbidden Planet, Kiss me Kate, and North by Northwest. In addition to academic essays, written requirements for the course will include fortnightly movie reviews, and short screenwriting assignments.