L220 1943 WERTHEIM
Introduction to Shakespeare

1:00p-2:15p TR (70) 3 cr.

There are reasons that Shakespeare is arguably the most renowned writer in history; and in the course of L220, we should discover many of those reasons. A master playwright, a master poet, and a profound commentator on the human condition, Shakespeare continues to speak lucidly to us and to shape our ideas about how humans relate to others, to their own personal consciences, to the Divine, to Nature, and to society and politics. As we read and cover with some care nine Shakespeare plays, we shall focus on recognizing the power of Shakespeare as a writer, as a man of theatre and as a thinker. We shall look at the Elizabethan political, social, and religious context in which Shakespeare wrote and produced his plays; but we shall also discuss the contemporary relevance of the plays and the ways in which they have been produced and conceived in our own time. The nine plays we shall consider will likely be A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV part 1, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and The Tempest.

L220 will be a lecture course, and if students are to gain the most from the lectures, it will be very important for them not to fall behind in the readings. Since L220 is designed as a lecture course, there are no discussion sections and in-class discussions will be scant at best. If you prefer a discussion course on Shakespeare, choose English L313 or L314. To help students maintain an appropriate reading schedule there will be regular quizzes. There will also be two short papers and a final. Videotapes and audio recordings of the plays are available at the Main Library, and students may well wish to use them. The overall aim of this course will be for students to gain an appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare's plays, to learn to write intelligently about them, and to leave the course wanting to read and learn more.