English 90

Practices of Literary Study: Shakespeare

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Spring 2022 Altman, Joel B.
MW 9:30-11 305 Wheeler


“‘A sad tale’s best for winter,’ but for spring a comedy is better.”  Focusing on three of Shakespeare’s most engaging plays—The Comedy of ErrorsThe Tragedy of King Lear, and The Winter’s Tale—which all concern divisions in a family (sometimes hilarious, often violent, always deeply moving)—we’ll study how genre informs the way stories are represented on the stage.  We’ll be looking at the shape of plot, character development through actions and words—especially words so vivid that the listener seems to be seeing what is described--how private thoughts are conveyed to the audience, and how Shakespeare’s work relates to its predecessors.  We’ll attend to staging, the mingling of verse and prose, verbal meaning, such themes as patriarchy and misogyny, friendship, and parent-child relations.  The title of the course refers to the last of our dramatic trio, in which the two traditional genres are associated with seasonal change, creating the hybrid “tragicomedy.”  I expect we’ll have some lively discussions and read passages aloud to one another, for analysis and enjoyment.  You’ll be expected to participate actively in class and to write three short papers.  

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