English 117S

Shakespeare in the Theater


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2009 Booth, Stephen
Booth, Stephen
TTh 2-3:30 277 Cory

Other Readings and Media

Shakespeare, W.: The Complete Works,  ed. Alfred Harbage et al. 

OR
Shakespeare, W.: The Complete Pelican Shakespeare, ed., S. Orgell and A.R.Branmuller     

OR
Shakespeare, W.: The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. B. Evans et al.,

OR
Shakespeare, W.: The Complete Works, ed. David Bevington

OR
Shakespeare, W.: Signet Classic Shakespeare,  ed. Sylvan Barnet et al., out of print

OR
Shakespeare, W.:The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al.

AND
McDonald, Russ: The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare    

Description

Some large percentage of everything said and written about literary works is not about those works but about their topics, about the moral, philosophic, or social issues those topics touch upon and, in the case of fictions, about the kinds of situations depicted in them.  This course is about Shakespeare’s plays—the plays as plays, actions upon the understandings of their audiences. I expect the course to do all the basic work of a Shakespeare survey.  I plan to 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 particular plays and texts 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 for sure 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.    

I don’t yet know which plays I’ll want to lecture on.  The list is pretty sure to include Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and The Winter's Tale.  Almost as sure are 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IVA Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, and King Lear.  Less certain are Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Love's Labor's Lost, and All's Well That Ends Well.
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.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

spring, 2020

117S/1

Shakespeare

spring, 2019

117S/1

Shakespeare

summer, 2019

117S/1

Shakespeare

spring, 2018

117S/1

Shakespeare

117S/2

Shakespeare

summer, 2018

117S/1

Shakespeare

fall, 2017

117S/1

Shakespeare

spring, 2017

117S/1

Shakespeare

117S/2

Shakespeare


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