E 321 • Shakespeare: Selected Plays
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
A course in Shakespeare should provide an unexpectedly wide and brightly-lit window into a different but vividly recognizable world. Like ours, that other world is highly political--obsessed with calculations of power and advantage. But its political games are more raw, more subtle, more articulate, more devious, more intelligent, more petulant, more coercive, and more deadly than ours.
Like ours, that other world is sexualized and in love with love. But it is far more intensely aware of the masquerades, the madnesses, and the mortal dangers of love. Like ours, that other world is full of hypocrisy. But unlike ours, its hypocrisies are conscious, innovative, theatrical, and even exuberant.
Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity in Austin to see and hear more than an occasional Shakespeare production. But I hope that any Shakespeare course would whet the appetite for performances elsewhere. Students should bring to the course a college-level experience of literature, an ear for the rhythms of poetry, a love of the sound of their own language, and an enthusiasm for expressing themselves accurately on paper.
Your grade will be no lower than the average of four 4-page essays.
We will use The Norton Shakespeare, Stephen Greenblatts edition of the complete plays.
We will study eight plays.