Although Shakespeare’s plays are usually studied as high canonical literature, they were originally written as playscripts designed for the entertainment of a disorderly, socially heterogeneous crowd and for the financial profit of the players. This course will attempt to resituate the plays in their original theatrical setting. We will study a representative selection of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories (to be chosen by the class at the first meeting) along with background material on Shakespeare’s theater and his culture.
There will be one or two hour-exams, one or two short papers, and a final exam. In addition, students are expected to meet each week in study groups outside of class and to make thoughtful, well-informed contributions to the class listserv and discussions.