Although Shakespeare's plays are usually studied as high canonical literature, they were originally written as playscripts, designed for the entertainment of a disorderly, socially heterogeneous audience and the financial profit of the players. This course will attempt to resituate the plays in their original theatrical setting. Readings will include material on the theaters of Shakespeare's time along with a representative selection of plays. We will act out scenes from the plays, and we will explore the theatrical use and cultural implications of devices such as the comic subplot, the play within the play, and the boy heroine. Each of the assigned plays is to be studied carefully, both alone and in a study group that meets for approximately six hours a week outside of class. There will be unannounced quizzes on the reading assignments, a midterm test, a term paper, and a final examination. Students are expected to make thoughtful, well-informed contributions to the class discussions and to rehearse and perform scenes from the plays. This course is designed for Benjamin Franklin Scholars. Other students will be admitted only with the instructor's permission.