Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses: Drama and Performance Studies

358:314 Shakespeare: The Early Plays

01  CAC  TH4  05668  LEVAO  AB-1170

The brilliance of Shakespeare’s early plays was acknowledged during their own time, and today we continue to be drawn to them both for their subtlety and exciting power and for their anticipations  of his later tragedies and romances. This course will be devoted to eight major works from first half of his career, a span of about 15 years (1588-1603) now often called his Elizabethan period, after the reigning monarch, Elizabeth I. The course covers the three kinds of drama delineated by the First Folio--Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies--and will include Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, Henry IV, Part One, Henry IV, Part Two, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet. Some attention will be given to film and stage performances through video clips, sometimes contrasting alternate versions, but our primary focus will be on the plays as literary and dramatic artifacts whose poetic texture, playfulness, and self-conscious intelligence have challenged and stimulated writers, readers, and audiences for over four centuries. A second course is planned for next semester, on Shakespeare’s later, Jacobean plays, but the two courses are independent and may be taken separately.

Format is lecture with time left for questioning and discussion. Grading is based on: occasional, in-class quizzes; three examinations, including two midterms and a three-hour final; and regular attendance.