Fulfills General Requirement III: Arts & Letters
This course will introduce you to a wide range of Shakspeare's plays, covering all the major genres in his canon: comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances. We will consider the plays in multiple ways: as rich literary texts, and also as playscripts that offer exciting potential for performance; as works that speak to our culture today, and also as documents that are firmly embedded in the early modern culture that produces them. These approaches will allow us to explore a wide range of themes that fill many of Shakespeare's plays: themes like the definition of identity, the place of the self in society, the conflicts between insiders and outsiders, the construction of gender and sexuality, the uses of power, and the status of the theater itself. To help us discuss issues of interpretation, we will watch some clips from modern film versions of the plays. Additionally, we will sample recent critical and theoretical writing on Shakespeare to get a sense of how scholars construct the field of Shakespeare studies. The class will be run as a seminar and thus depend on active student participation. Students will write several short essays and two or three longer papers.