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Spring 2014 Course Descriptions

English 3892  Shakespeare, Honors

English 3892 Section 099    CRN 31633
Shakespeare, Honors    1230-1345 TR

Ben Jonson’s epitaph, memorializing Shakespeare as “not of an age but for all time” has proven prophetic. Recently, the Royal Shakespeare Company premiered Such Tweet Sorrow, an experimental five-week production of Romeo and Juliet performed via Twitter. Also not too long ago, the venerable Arden Shakespeare series officially welcomed an addition to the Bard’s canon entitled Double Falsehood. The last year or so has produced major cinematic adaptations (The Tempest and Coriolanus as well as Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing) along with the sudsy Anonymous that explored the authorship controversy. In short, with a “brand new” play and multiple films out and a central role in the vanguard of alternative media performance, Shakespeare is alive and well in the 21st century.

Rather than read widely in the Shakespearean canon, we will read slowly, closely, playfully --- exploring two comedies, two tragedies, a history, and a romance alongside a smattering of period documents, excerpts from other plays, and scholarly articles. In addition to the usual suspects in terms of requirements (short papers, critical essays, exams), robust class discussion will be juxtaposed with regular, vigorous excursions into performance. Class sessions will frequently be dedicated to approaching these plays as theatre practitioners do, exploring their potential as scripts. We will also see two (possibly three) staged productions together during the semester as well as a variety of films. As such, while no prior experience with acting is required, this course provides an excellent opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s language in both scholarly and theatrical contexts. Those who enroll will be able to meet in person and/or virtually with the instructor during the fall 2013 term to help develop the syllabus and schedule. (Group 3D)