Shakespeare: Poems and Early Plays

Course Number: ENGL 105A
Prerequisites: Writing 2 or upper-division standing
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 105A
Quarter: Summer A 2012
Day(s): MTWR
Time: 12:30 - 1:35 PM
Location: GIRV 1119
Can be used for the Early Modern specialization. If this course is used to fulfill the Shakespeare requirement for English major, it cannot also be used as an upper-division English elective.
This course will explore a selection of plays that make up the first decade of William Shakespeare’s career, roughly from 1591-1601, under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In doing so, we will sample a range of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men’s work across genres, considering histories, tragedies, and comedies. Likewise, we will experience their work across media, not only reading each play, but viewing a modern—and in some cases, experimental—film adaptation of each play. Such an approach will allow us to pay close attention not only to the literariness of Shakespeare’s work, but to also appreciate its performative qualities in both Elizabethan and contemporary settings.

Some questions that we will raise include: How does trauma affect our understanding of history? How do we imagine our past in order to invent our current sense of identity? What political and personal tensions contribute to our sense of history, identity, and our own individuality? How are these texts aware of their performative qualities, and how does performance influence how we experience ourselves, how we think (both actively and quietly), and how we bond with one another? And lastly, how is Shakespeare re-adapted, re-imagined, and recycled in the contemporary world?

Texts include: Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night (all Pelican Shakespeare editions). Films include: Richard III (1995, starring Ian McKellen), Romeo + Juliet (1996, starring Leonardo DiCaprio), Merchant of Venice (2004, starring Al Pacino), Hamlet (2000, starring Ethan Hawke) and Twelfth Night (1996, starring Helena Bonham Carter).