Madness, truth, honor, pity—these are a few of the concepts Shakespeare explores in his earliest plays. In this online course, we will scrutinize the representations of these ideas and others that emerge in plots of political intrigue, tyranny, rebellion, and vengeance. Working within this frame, we will attempt to understand how Shakespeare’s works confronted the political and social assumptions of his original audiences and how his writing continues to challenge similar concerns we face in our own culture. To this end, students will carefully read sonnets and plays, and develop interpretive arguments using the skills of close reading and analysis to produce critical essays of varying length, totaling 8-10 pages. Possible texts include selected sonnets, Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV, Richard III, and Hamlet. This course offers students the opportunity to read extensively from the works of one of the major writers of the western tradition as well as the opportunity to acquire and practice interpretive, analytical, and communication skills that will aid them in their future coursework in English and other disciplines. Because this course provides an introduction to the language, conventions, and implications of Shakespeare’s work, students need not have prior familiarity with Shakespeare or with early modern literature.
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.
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.
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.