ENGL 3000 Shakespeare for Nonmajors
About the Course:
In the 21st century it is increasingly common to hear concerns about unemployment rates, the rising cost of education, and concern over the value of a college education. As this is a course titled “Shakespeare for Non Majors,” we will adopt an eye for what we can do with Shakespeare and how we can utilize the skills of an English course in a non-major specific environment. We will work to recognize the skills that are practiced in an English class that have application in the professional working world.
We will adopt two primary goals in this course. First, this course will function as an introduction to the plays of William Shakespeare in content, genre, and theme. To accomplish this, we will introduce the concept of close reading in order to examine several of the major plays and discuss them in discussion forums. We will pursue questions of form, genre, theme, character, and language to seek to interpret the words on the page and the influence staging these words might have in shaping their meaning. My desire is that each student should use the tools we introduce in class lectures in order to form his/her own personal interpretation of these works based on discussion with classmates.
The second major focus for this course emerges from an awareness of the skills that we will practice in this class that have applications to the larger world of work, professionalism, and business. By this I simply mean that in addition to asking ourselves the question, “What do we DO to Shakespeare’s works as we read them?” we will also consciously ask “What skills are we exercising in an English course that have applications elsewhere?” In 2013, Forbes.com announced that key to being a competitive candidate in the professional world was, “to demonstrate that you have [key] skills through your cover letter, résumé and interview. Think about class projects where you have been a team member or leader and jobs where you have had to plan and prioritize. Describe those skills specifically in your résumé and cover letter.”¹
To this end we will read a series of contemporary business articles from blogs, magazines, and corporate sources that aim to articulate skills and competencies that employers are seeking in new hires. Further, will aim to explicitly outline the skill sets that each assignment, project, and course goal aims to accomplish. This course will ask you to not only competently demonstrate the skills of an English course, but also demonstrate that you can recognize the skills you have learned and apply them to disparate fields such as the world of business, the realm of public service, and the professional environment.
In this course students will:
- Gain an initial exposure to the plays of William Shakespeare.
- Develop an understanding of Shakespeare’s place in our own world of twenty-first century America.
- Work on developing the foundation of a vocabulary of literary terms and concepts.
- Recognize differences in dramatic genres, as well as some of the differences and developments in genres over time.
- Learn to apply techniques of close reading to Shakespeare’s plays in order to engage them on multiple analytical levels.
- Learn to distil the breadth of class discussion and literary musing into concise, focused, arguments regarding the texts and the themes of the class.
- Learn to recognize skill sets being practiced in various tasks and aim to apply those skills in numerous applications.
Please note: As this class is interested in the ways that Shakespeare’s works are culturally important and available, there is not a specific edition of the works that I am requiring. Rather, you can access the plays we are reading in whichever way, and whatever edition you would like. A few caveats: You must have and read the text for every play, and the edition you are working from must have Act, Scene, and Line numbers. Please bring to the discussion forums any differences in word usage and/or staging that you encounter as this will highlight the aspects of Shakespeare we are discussing. http://www.bartleby.com/70/ is a useful link to all of Shakespeare’s works; you may use this, or any other source you’d like, so long at it includes act, scene, and line numbers.
- Twelfth Night
- Antony and Cleopatra
- The Tragedy of Richard the Third
- Romeo and Juliet
- The Tempest
- The Taming of the Shrew (optional)
- Titus Andronicus
Coursework and Grading:
Your course grade will depend collectively on discussion forum writing assignments and participation in our online forum, leading a week’s discussion board questions, a formal literary analysis paper, a major group project, and a response to a classmate’s project. The grading scheme will break down as follows:
- 25% Discussion Board Participation
- 10% Discussion Board Leader Week
- 15% Close Reading Paper
- 10% Final Project Pitch
- 25% Final Group Project
- 15% Final Exam Project response
¹Adams, Susan. “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want in 20-Something Employees.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/10/11/the-10-skills-employers-most-want-in-20-something-employees/. Accessed 7/14/2014.