ENGL 3000 Shakespeare for Nonmajors
ABOUT THE COURSE:
This course introduces students to the dramatic works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and their modern adaptations through the archetype of the villain. From Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber in Die Hard to J.K. Rowling’s sinister Lord Voldemort, villains abound in both literature and film, often becoming a work’s most popular character in spite of (or because of?) their misdeeds. In the same way, Shakespeare’s villains—ranging from the manipulative Iago to the “unsex’d” Lady Macbeth, from the ambitious Richard III to the rapacious Shylock—continue to interest scholars, performers, and readers because of their complex motivations, conceptions of self, and relationships with language. As we make our way through a sampling of six comedies, tragedies, histories, and romances, as well as several film adaptations, the following questions will direct our discussion: what ideas and assumptions about gender, sexuality, race, and religion inform depictions of villainy? How do Shakespeare’s works subvert, play into, or manipulate such assumptions? How do characters use language to cast themselves or others as villains? How should villains be performed, and what decisions must actors make when playing them?
In attempting to answer these and other questions about the plays, the idea of the villain will provide an entry point for analyzing Shakespeare’s works and honing literary analysis skills in general. In addition, as we analyze the same works and characters across a variety of adaptations, we will look closely at each medium’s reimagining of the original’s villain(s), what impact this has on the work as a whole, and how, broadly speaking, the medium impacts the work’s content, reception, and meaning.
- To comprehend and interpret a range of Shakespeare’s plays and their adaptations with a particular emphasis on language;
- To develop “close-reading” or literary analysis skills and to demonstrate these through both informal and formal writing assignments;
- To supplement those traditional skills of literary analysis through the use of digital tools;
- To describe the relationship between a play’s medium of delivery (e.g., print, digital, film, painting) and its content, and to articulate this relationship in clear prose.
- Shakespeare, Othello, Folger Shakespeare Library Series, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. ISBN: 978-0743477550
- Shakespeare, Macbeth, Folger Shakespeare Library Series, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003. ISBN: 978-0743477109
- Shakespeare, Richard III, Folger Shakespeare Library Series, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004. ISBN: 978-0743482844
- Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Folger Shakespeare Library Series, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009. ISBN: 978-0743477567
- Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Folger Shakespeare Library Series, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005. ISBN: 978-0743484909
- Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Folger Shakespeare Library Series, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004. ISBN: 978-0743477574
|Weekly Reading Responses (1 original post + 1 response to classmate)||20%|
|Film Group Assignment||15%|