This course, which focuses on four of the later plays of Shakespeare’s career, is designed as an introduction to the language, themes, contexts, and implications of Shakespeare’s most mature work. Though our close reading of these plays will lead us to consider any number of the many topics which are developed throughout Shakespeare’s work, I have chosen these four plays with special attention to their depictions and “stagings” of psychic, cultural, and social extremities. You need not have taken ENG 207 to appreciate this course: no prior familiarity with Shakespeare or Renaissance literature is required or expected.
You should be aware that in focusing on the topic of “Shakespeare’s Extremities,” this course addresses some provocative issues in these powerful dramas. Shakespeare’s work can be violent and sexual, sometimes simultaneously.
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.
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.