“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” Why does this line—and Shakespeare’s tale of forbidden love more generally—remain so popular in the cultural imagination? What makes Shakespeare’s work so relevant over four centuries after it was written? How have spectators, readers, and scholars consumed and revised Shakespearean drama over time? This course will consider these questions and more, as we read some of William Shakespeare’s most powerful plays, including Hamlet, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. As an introduction to Shakespearean drama and the popular performance culture of the English Renaissance, the course will explore the literary, social, and political context in which the Bard lived. With close readings, discussion, informal in-class performances, and a look at several film adaptations, we will become familiar with Shakespeare’s language and the structure of his plays as we investigate genre, representation, contemporary dramatic practice, and recent reimaginings. Assignments will include quizzes, short essays, and a final paper.