Note: This course fulfills the Arts & Letters "General Requirement" within the College General Requirement. In English, only English 100-104 are General Requirement courses; almost all others will fulfill the "distributional" requirement in Arts & Letters. This is an introductory course--not one for senior majors. Experienced majors should take English 37 or English 235. This course, plus another in medieval literature, may be used as an alternative to the usual English 201 requirement.
A survey of selected plays by Shakespeare in each of the four genres: three comedies, four histories, three tragedies, and one romance. We will look at the plays as artifacts that tell us something about the complex culture, society, and politics of the English Renaissance; as scripts for performance; and as texts that have long held the center of the Western literary canon. Thus, we will explore the plays' significance in their own time, as well as what they mean today both on the stage and in our cultural life. In addition to reading the plays, the class will read short selections of criticism and other Renaissance texts, and we will view film versions of some plays (and a stage performance, if possible). Students will be required to do a series of short writing exercises, as well as two five-page papers and a final examination.