In self-reflexive characters we might categorize as lovers, fools, and madmen, the later plays of Shakespeare confront the political and social concerns of his original audiences, concerns that continue to challenge us today, including issues of gender, race, class, and interiority. In this course, we will scrutinize Shakespeare’s representations of these ideas and others that emerge in plots involving mistaken identity, love, heartache, generational conflict, and vengeance. To this end, students will read four plays—Twelfth Night, or What You Will, King Lear, Winter’s Tale, and Tempest—and develop interpretive arguments using the skills of close reading and analysis to produce critical essays of varying length, totaling 8-10 pages. Students will leave the course having read carefully from the works of one of the major writers of the western tradition, and they will have acquired interpretive, analytical, and communication skills that will aid them in their future coursework in English and other disciplines.
This course provides an introduction to the language, conventions, and implications of Shakespeare’s work. Students need not have prior familiarity with Shakespeare or early modern literature to succeed in this class.
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.
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.