Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:203 Shakespeare and Film

01   TTH6   CAC   05656  LEVAO  MU-301

The course has two goals: 1.) To introduce students to the pleasures of reading and interpreting Shakespeare’s plays and 2.) To study and appreciate the varied ways in which modern filmmakers have represented those plays. A comparison and contrast of texts and films will illuminate both while respecting the specialness of each. Rather than judge films for their fidelity to an original, prestigious text, we will regard both play and film as imaginative creations evoking the active participation of readers and spectators. What effects do language and scene construction have on our understanding of character and action? What happens when we cut or rearrange lines and scenes for a reimagined audience? What effect does cinematography have on our experience of a play? How do close reading and film viewing relate to theatrical performance? What effect does music have on our responses? What role does Shakespeare play in the modern entertainment industry?

Limiting ourselves to four plays, we will allow time for close attention to both word and image, and for viewing and discussing several cinematic interpretations and “off-shoots.” Three full-length enactments will be viewed for each play, together with occasional, shorter selections. The plays for this semester will be: Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Films will feature the work of influential actors and directors such as Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Kenneth Branagh, Ian McKellen, Al Pacino, Akira Kurosawa, Jean Simmons, Annette Bening, Claire Danes, Ethan Hawke and others.

Format is lecture with time left for questioning and discussion. Students will be required to purchase 4 paperback editions of the plays we are reading and to bring them to class. They will also be required to obtain Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide.  Writing will build through 3 short response papers to a clear and engaging final essay of 10-12 pages.   No final exam.