The goal of this course is counteract the modern tendency to read characters in the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare as if they were characters in a novel and not highly articulated symbols.
Although Chaucer and Shakespeare did indeed create interesting characters, their works are great not because of these characters but because the characters are functioning in a larger argument about human happiness. The principles of that architecture often lie in the Christian Bible. The Hebrew Bible will be addressed with an effort to avoid the Christian interpretations, although with the New Testament, we will inevitably have to reinterpret the Hebrew Bible as the Old Testament. Reading: in the Hebrew Bible, we will read Genesis, parts of Exodus, Job, Song of Solomon, and parts of Isaiah; in the New Testament, we will read parts of Mark, Matthew, and Luke and all of John. In Chaucer, we will read the marriage group, the Knight’s Tale, and the Pardoner’s Tale; and in Shakespeare, we will read Measure for Measure, Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Tempest. Midterm, two papers (about 5-7 pages), final.