E 321 • Shakespeare: Selected Plays
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
An appropriate sub-title for the course might be "Let wonder seem familiar" (Ado, 5.4.70), for Sh's comedies and romances take us on journeys through strange, marvelous, topsy-turvy worlds where fools are wise, gods are frequent visitors, language is playful, magic and visions are fairly common, and lovers never seem to have an easy time. The plays do indeed challenge, disturb, and dislocate, ask us to look at things in a different way, questioning conventional assumptions which legitimate patriarchy and sexual stereotyping and disturbing even the stability of words through dialectics which explore alternative possibilities of living and thinking. All of this is not to say that alls well that ends well. Quite often at the end, we wonder about the extent of suffering and the sense of injustice and wonder about unanswered questions. Those are part of the mystery, the wonder. In more specific terms, the plays give us the opportunity to examine divergent views of father-daughter relationships and variations on themes love, loss, dislocation, alienation, jealousy, anxiety, suffering, redemption, forgiveness, and self-discovery, and as well, the opportunity to study belief systems: how the plays engage both the personae and the audience in things monstrous to human reason (WT.5.1.40). To experience all of the above requires close, critical, reading of the play-texts, special attention to the rhetorical uses of language and Shs polyphonic structure, and a strong desire to exchange ideas in class, in conference, and through essays.
Five (5) brief (2-3 pp) "position papers."*; One mid-term exam; Final Exam. (Optional: other "position papers"*: Revisions on all papers.)
Class participation, 20%; Papers, 40%; Hour exam, 15%; Final exam, 25%.
S. Greenblatt (ed.) Norton Shakespeare: Comedies and Norton Shakespeare: Romances and Poems. Plays: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Loves Labours Lost, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winters Tale, The Tempest.