ENGL 3563 Shakespeare

Instructor Contact:

Rachael Deagman Simonetta, PhD

Email: deagman@colorado.edu

About the Course:

In this course, we will read several of William Shakespeare’s plays written over the span of his career. While there are many approaches to studying the work of the famed early modern playwright, we will focus on Shakespeare’s astonishingly rich and complex use of language and on his clever experimentation with genre. Whereas the early comedies celebrate the conventions of courtship and the capriciousness of love, the late romances are less about lovers wooing one another and more about patterns of disorientation, recognition, and the possibilities of forgiveness. The histories contemplate England’s national identity through investigations of family, friendship, power and kingship. The later tragedies also connect human relationships to political power but do so with tremendous skepticism and ambiguity. We will learn to recognize how these genres differ from one another and also how Shakespeare invokes these forms only to blur the lines among them. Most of all, we will keep in mind that drama is a genre that moves from page to stage; that is to say, Shakespeare’s plays were not merely written to be read but rather to be performed by embodied actors on stage.

Course Prerequisites: List course prereqs here: None


Students who read closely and carefully, and who actively participate in the work of the course, will have the ability to do the following by the end of term:

  • Interpret and analyze the assigned plays with a particular emphasis on language, genre, historical context and performance;
  • Identify important cultural contexts of early modern drama such as anti-theatricalism, religious reform, theater history, and theatrical space;
  • Describe the link between page (written text) and stage (performance);
  • Find, assess, and employ secondary scholarship;
  • Produce scholarly research projects;
  • Employ and appraise online tools to develop digital literacies;
  • Write clear, concise, analytical prose.

Required Texts:

Greenblatt, Stephen, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard and Katharine Eisaman Maus, eds. The Norton Shakespeare: Essential Plays and the Sonnets. New York: W.W. Norton.


The percentage breakdown is as follows:

Syllabus Quiz: 5%

Discussion Posts: 45% (5% each for Weeks 2-10)

Midterm Essay:  20%

Final Essay:  30%






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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


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1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado