This course will introduce students to Shakespeare's tragedies and romances. In order to understand the plays, we will look both at how they reflect Renaissance culture, and at how they have come to be shaped and understood in later centuries. We will read background material on Renaissance society and stage practice, and watch several film adaptations of the plays. Texts likely to be included are Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest and The Winter's Tale. Class participation will play an important part for our discussion of the works, and there will be weekly outside reading groups to explore and act scenes from the plays. There will be weekly written responses, several short papers, and a final exam.