Introduction to Shakespeare

L220 — Spring 2020

Instructor
Linda Charnes
Days and Times
2:30-3:45 TR
Course Description

TOPIC: “Why Shakespeare?”

Shakespeare! What is all the fuss about? Why do we continue to read and see Shakespeare’s plays, and what is it about them that makes his work so meaningful after four-hundred-plus years? What do we mean when we say that something—a situation, a play, a movie, a novel, a set of emotions, an event--is “Shakespearean”? Was Shakespeare the “mass media” of his day, and if so, how and why?

Given that Shakespeare wrote his plays during the Renaissance in England, what was it about that era that produced or contributed to his sensibility? What was and remains unique about the way he challenged his own time and continues to challenge ours? We will pursue these questions through intensive in-depth reading and discussion of six plays that arguably represent what is most Shakespearean about Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Othello, Hamlet, and The Tempest. Requirements: three take-home essay exams and a final exam. Attendance and participation will count for 20% of your course grade.