English R1B

Reading and Composition: The Rom Com: Shakespeare & Hollywood

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
12 Spring 2015 Liu, Aileen
TTh 3:30-5 225 Wheeler

Book List

Shakespeare, William: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Shakespeare, William: As You Like It; Shakespeare, William: The Merchant of Venice; Shakespeare, William: Twelfth Night

Other Readings and Media

Required Films
City Lights (1931, dir. Charlie Chaplin), DVD 217; Swing Time (1936, dir. George Stevens), DVD 4254; The Lady Eve (1941, dir. Preston Sturges), DVD 864; Roman Holiday (1953, dir. William Wyler), DVD 7377; The Apartment (1960, dir. Billy Wilder), DVD 1758; Annie Hall (1977, dir. Woody Allen), DVD 56; The Birdcage (1996, dir. Mike Nichols), DVD 1614; You’ve Got Mail (1998, dir. Nora Ephron), DVD 3016


What makes the genre of romantic comedy so pleasurable, when it is often critically maligned as being so formulaic? What defines a romantic comedy? What has persisted in romantic comedy throughout the centuries, from Shakespeare to 20th-century Hollywood, and what has not?

To think about these questions, we’ll look at four of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies and eight Hollywood rom coms from the ‘30s to the ‘90s. Along the way, we’ll explore issues surrounding genre, convention, plotting, taste, gender, ethnicity, and class. Our tools for exploration and inquiry are rereading, rewriting, research, and discussion, so we will practice these skills inside and outside of class. Over the course of the semester, you will write and rewrite two papers of progressively increasing length (for a total of four papers), combining analysis of primary works with research from secondary sources.

Note about our required books and films: Any solid scholarly edition of Shakespeare will suffice (e.g. Riverside, Pelican, Signet, Folger, Arden, Norton), but having the Oxford Shakespeare Series editions that I’ve ordered will make it easier to follow along and reference in class. No e-books. All films are available to screen in the Media Resources Center in Moffitt Library.

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