This course offers students an introduction to Shakespeare through some of his most enduring and popular dramatic works. Readings may include tragedies such as Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello; comedies such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merchant of Venice; histories such as Richard II and Henry V; and the late romance, The Tempest. We will analyze the genre, dramatic structure, and language of these plays as we practice performing close readings and dealing critically with the issues they raise. How can we place Shakespeare’s drama in the social and political context of his own time, as well as in our own? Course requirements will include a performance exercise, a presentation, and a final research project. Students of all levels are welcome and no prior knowledge is required or assumed.