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Shakespeare: Four Centuries of Performance

ENGL 101.601
instructor(s):
T 6-9

This course provides an introduction to some of Shakespeare's best-known plays and poems. Particular emphasis will be placed on how the meaning of these works is shaped according to the place and time of their performance. Our discussions will focus on the ways in which Shakespeare incorporates, critiques, and explores early modern English culture in his drama and poetry a culture largely unlike today's. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, England experienced radical shifts in social, economic, and religious conditions. Part and parcel of this upheaval were new and varied modes of theatrical and textual production. We will explore how Shakespeare used these changes as opportunities to rework the sources and conventions he inherited. In a similar fashion, subsequent dramatists and poets, actors and scholars have adapted Shakespeare's plays and poems to emerging technologies and changing tastes. Therefore, in this course we will also consider the presentation and revision of these works over the past four centuries, including modern productions and interpretations. Active class participation will be a vital aspect of the course. Short writing assignments, a longer research project, and an oral presentation will be required. There will be a final exam.