Many of Shakespeare's early plays are romantic comedies, a genre that was and remains easy to dismiss as simplistic and idealized. However, under the delightful surfaces of these plays (and, indeed, modern iterations of the genre) lie meditations on gender, sexuality, class, race, and power that are just as complex as that we might find in more traditionally exalted genres of literature. In this class, we will examine four of Shakespeare's early comedies - The Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and Much Ado about Nothing - to see how Shakespeare represents these political and social concerns that still affect us today, unsettling the happy endings traditionally found in the genre. We will also develop close reading and critical, argumentative writing skills through class conversations and analytical written assignments totaling 10 pages.
Shakespeare courses foster understanding of Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies. Besides introducing students to central questions in the study of dramatic art and to broader issues pertaining the study of literature in English, they enhance students’ cultural literacy by deepening their comprehension of arguably the best known writings of an English author.
Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience. Major II students can also use one lower-division elective to fulfill the Writing Requirement with ENG 209 The Craft of the Sentence.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.