Joan Pong Linton

10:10a-11:00a MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

Shakespeare’s plays are riddled with recurrent questions of love, war, kingship, crime, law, politics of the family, the corruptions of power and powerlessness, and the possibilities for individual agency. In this course, we will explore these questions through careful reading and analysis of several of the late plays. In class discussions we will examine how Shakespeare’s language works, on the page and the stage, to present character, indicate action and setting, convey the back story, and engage the audience. By contextualizing the plays, we will see how each relates to issues of his time, and continues to be relevant to our world today. In drawing from current scholarship, we will not only gain an understanding of the conditions and practices of the self-conscious, transvestite theater and the socially diverse audience for which Shakespeare wrote, but also enter into some of the critical debates that have developed around some of his plays.

While not finalized, the reading list will likely include Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, some primary sources, and a number of scholarly essays. In addition to active participation in class discussions, students will be responsible for short responses to each of the plays, a 10-minute oral presentation (or directing selected scenes from a play), two exams, and two essays (5 and 8 pages long). There will be bonus points for participation in an in-class performance.