English R1B

Reading & Composition: Shakespearean Tragedy

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
26 Spring 2012 Jordan, Joseph P
Jordan, Joe
TTh 3:30-5 225 Wheeler

Book List

Aristotle: Aristotle's Poetics; Gibaldi, Joseph: MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers; Shakespeare, W.: Shakespeare's Tragedies (ed. Bevington); Sophocles: Oedipus Rex


This course is primarily a writing course, and our focus will be on writing. That said, since we need a subject to write about, I've chosen to focus on Shakespeare's great tragedies—namely, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear. We will read and study these plays in detail, with the aim of coming to some conclusions about why they, in particular, are commonly thought of as some of Shakespeare’s greatest dramatic achievements and as some of the greatest tragedies in English. We will think a lot about the compartment that we label “tragedy”—or the compartment that Aristotle labeled for us. Do these instances of Shakespeare’s tragedies fit into that compartment? Can we usefully compare them to earlier and/or later instances of the genre? Or are Shakespeare’s tragedies—his conception of tragedy within them and the experience of tragedy they push upon their audiences—in certain ways unique?

Note: If you already have individual volumes of the plays, or a single-volume edition of the collected works of Shakespeare, those will probably work in place of the Shakespeare text (Shakespeare's Tragedies, editied by Bevington) that I've ordered.


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