We will read several of Shakespeare's English history plays (to be chosen from among *Henry VI* [parts I, II, and III], *Richard III*, *Richard II*, *Henry IV* [parts I and II], and and *Henry V*) to see how they express Tudor concerns with the sources of social authority. The plays explore this issue through their depictions of struggles, primarily for rulership, but also over personal identity, family history and genealogy, and gender. (If we have enough time, we may also read one of two history plays by writers other than Shakespeare--for example, Christopher Marlowe or John Ford--to see how his contemporaries dealt with such issues). Similar issues are raised by Shakespeare's comedies, to be chosen from among *The Taming of the Shrew* (as well as the anonymous *Taming of a Shrew* and John Fletcher's *The Woman's Prize: or, The Tamer Tam'd*), *A Midsummer Night's Dream*, *Much Ado About Nothing*, *As You Like It*, *Twelfth Night*, *The Merchant of Venice*, and *Measure for Measure*. Together, these plays should give us a sense of how Shakespeare used various dramatic forms to explore some of the central concerns of his society, with languages and styles carefully adjusted to the demands of those forms. Students will be expected to read some historical and critical works, as well as the plays themselves. The course will require two short (ca. 5 pp.) papers, willingness to participate in some classroom presentations of scenes, and a final paper (ca. 15 pp.).