In what may have been Shakespeare’s favorite text, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, humans change into beasts, plants, and stones. Similar transformations occur in Shakespeare’s works: men turn to beasts, youths to flowers, women to stone. We will be focusing on such moments of fluidity when human identity slips into that of another species: animal, vegetable, and mineral. Are such changes merely the result of poetic and dramatic license? Or are they indicative of a different way of relating the human to other forms of existence? We will be considering these questions in the context of more familiar ways of exploring and classifying human difference and generation: by gender, class, and race. What is so special about the human species? And in what ways do the ludic, fictive, and fantastic liberties taken by poetry and drama provide a productive arena for exploring the plasticity of human identity? Texts: Rape of Lucrece, Venus and Adonis, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titus Andronicus, King Lear, Othello, The Winter’s Tale, Anthony and Cleopatra. Requirements: Routine class exercises and two papers.