English 17


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2022 Arnold, Oliver
MWF 9-10 101 Morgan


English 17 is an introduction to the study of Shakespeare; incoming transfer students, future majors, and non-majors are especially welcome.

Shakespeare’s poems and plays are relentlessly unsettling, sublimely beautiful, deeply moving, rigorously brilliant, and compulsively meaningful: they complicate everything, they simplify nothing.  As we puzzle over the way Shakespeare represents—and complicates our understanding of—compassion, republicanism, identity, colonialism, racism, anti-Semitism, tragedy, and desire, we will keep two overarching questions percolating: how does Shakespeare conceive theater (its uses, its value)?; and what makes Shakespeare SHAKESPEARE?  That is, what makes Shakespeare distinctive and what makes him a strange colossus, a touchstone for literary artists from Milton to Goethe, from George Eliot to Proust, from Emily Dickinson to Sarah Kane, from Brecht to Toni Morrison and for philosophers and theorists such as Hegel, Marx. Freud, Derrida, Kristeva, Lacan, and Zizeck?

We will read roughly 8 plays and a few handfuls of sonnets; we will also devote some class time to films and filmed performances of the plays.

Several short assignments, some of which will include creative options, will aim emphasize close reading, attention to form, and argumentation. Both the final essay and the final exam will allow students to turn to account the skills that they have honed in the short assignments.  

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