ENG 257 Shakespeare

William Oram, M W F 11:00 AM-12:10 PM

Shakespeare only rarely made up the stories dramatized in his plays.  Usually he took his material from other writers and transformed it, giving it meaningful shape.  The class will focus on the means by which Shakespeare builds these meanings, including his densely suggestive language, his use of stage action, and his organization of speeches, scenes and plays.  While the class is run by discussion, there will be a good deal of lecturing about the historical, religious and cultural backgrounds of the works.  

 We’ll read Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra and The Winter’s Tale.  We’ve chosen the plays to represent the various genres with which Shakespeare experiments, and we’ll consider how and why he mixes comedy and tragedy in particular works. Thematically the plays tend to focus on erotic love and political power, often in relation to one another, although they treat other concerns.

 There is a lot of writing in this course. The class will write three 5-8 page papers over the semester, of which the first two will be submitted first in draft and then rewritten.  In addition roughly once a week students will turn in ungraded one-or-two page papers before class to prepare for discussion.  There will be a final exam.  The class is limited to 25; seniors have priority.