English R1B

Reading & Composition: Shakespeare and Film

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
22 Spring 2014 Bahr, Stephanie M
TTh 5-6:30 225 Wheeler

Book List

Shakespeare, William: Macbeth; Shakespeare, William: Much Ado About Nothing; Shakespeare, William: Richard III; Shakespeare, William: The Tempest; Shakespeare, William: Titus Andronicus

Other Readings and Media

Macbeth, dir. Rupert Goold, 2010; Throne of Blood, dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1957; TItus, dir. Julie Taymor, 1999; Richard III, dir. Richard Loncraine, 1995; Much Ado About Nothing, dir. Kenneth Branagh, 1993; Much Ado About Nothing, dir. Joss Whedon, 2012; Forbidden Planet, dir. Fred M. Wilcox, 1956



Since the earliest days of silent film, William Shakespeare's works have been adapted on screen hundreds of times in diverse settings, from fascist Italy to the Wild West, medieval Japan to the undiscovered planet of Altair IV.  In this course, we will begin with a thorough textual analysis of five of Shakespeare’s plays as they appear on the page, paying meticulous attention to the nuance of form and language. We will then study film adaptations of these plays and their use of the formal elements of film, such as framing, editing, and mise en scene.  We will boldly confront the plays’ most troubling content—murder, rape, misogyny, racism—and the problems they present in adaptation.  What unique opportunities does the medium of film offer to the staging of these plays?  What is the effect of combining the modern film language with Shakespeare’s renaissance language? What is a “faithful adaptation” and what are the implicit assumptions of such a phrase? We shall engage questions like these through vigorous class discussion and keen argumentative writing.  In this course, you will hone your close reading skills—both of texts and of films—and work to transform these readings into persuasive, clearly structured, and well-researched essays.

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