English 117J

Upper Division Coursework: Shakespeare

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2006 Booth, Stephen
Booth, Stephen
TTh 5-6:30 P.M. 24 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"ONE--or, better--two OF THE FOLLOWING ONE-VOLUME SHAKESPEARES: William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, ed. Alfred Harbage et al. [The old Pelican Shakespeare] (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1969); The Complete Pelican Shakespeare, ed. S. Orgel and A.R. Branmuller [The New Pelican] (New York, 2002); The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. B. Evans et al. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974 (old edition) or 1998 (new edition); The Complete Works of Shakespeare, ed. David Bevington (new ed. Longmans) OR old (I don't remember who published it); The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare, ed. Sylvan Barnet et al. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972) [Only the one-volume version of the Signet Shakespeare will be practical for classroom purposes. It�s out of print, but there should be second-hand copies around.]; The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: Norton, 1997); AND Russ McDonald: The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare (Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1996 [2 nd edition, 2001])

I want you to read the McDonald book in such a way as to get a general sense of what kinds of things one needs to bear in mind when reading or seeing Shakespeare--needs to look up or look out for but need not commit to memory."


"I expect the course to do all the basic work of a Shakespeare survey and also to have seminar-like intellectual crossfire. I will take up all the topics that concern Shakespeare scholars, but I will not take them up systematically. I find that presenting a topic like ""Establishing Shakespeare's Texts"" causes people to try to memorize a lot of distinguished guesswork and understand nothing. Instead of organizing the communal and active ignorance of the last 300 years of scholarship, I will wait for particulars of classroom discussion to invite comment and background on printing-house practices, Shakespeare's stage, the composition of his audience, and stuff like that. If we work from stray particulars, you are less likely than you might otherwise be to come away with ""knowledge"" of matters about which we have--and have only evidence enough for--pure but immensely detailed guesses.

I don't yet know how I will want to use in-class time, but I will certainly concentrate on Shakespeare's language and on the plays as plays--experiences for audiences--and on what it is about them that has caused the western world and much of the eastern to value them so highly.

When I gave a small Shakespeare course I usually ask people to read Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Henry V, Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Love's Labor's Lost, All�s Well That Ends Well, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, A Midsummer Night�s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Tempest, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and The Winter's Tale; the order given here will not be the--or much like the--order in which I will ask that you read the plays.

I will give spot passage quizzes daily--or almost daily. Their purpose will be to make certain that you keep up with the reading and that you understand the surface sense and the syntactic physics of all the sentences you read.

Three papers, each of a length determined by how much you have to say and how efficient you are in saying it. The third paper will be in lieu of a final examination."

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