This course will concentrate on the plays Shakespeare wrote in the last 10 to 12 years of his active involvement with the professional theater of Renaissance London. The main themes of the course will be ones that were central to English culture in general and to Shakespeare's plays in particular: constructions of family, gender, and sexuality, definitions of self and identity, and explorations of power and authority. In addition to examining the plays within their original cultural and dramatic contexts, the course will also study modern film interpretations of the plays and examine what these often competing versions tell us about the plays themselves and about our own culture's approach to them.
The course will cover 10 to 12 plays during the semester and may include, as points of reference, an early comedy of Shakespeare's and a non-Shakespearean play. Video screenings will be required.