Throughout this semester we will be returning to the Elizabethan/Jacobean world of Renaissance England.This world differs from our contemporary situation here in Taiwan, so we will at times need to address the social, political, and cultural environment in which William Shakespeare lived and wrote.Because you need to know the basic facts of Shakespeare's life and times, each of you will be required to read an encyclopedia article or a general introduction to Shakespeare (like the one found in The Riverside Shakespeare on pages 1-25).We will be reading six plays in a roughly chronological order, including examples of his comedies, tragedies, and histories: I Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet.Each play must be read carefully because the mid-term and final exams will test your memory of the plays' texts.
I view your reading list for this course as a set of scripts--texts not meant to be primarily read (though that is what we will do), but rather performed for an audience.After all, the script is only the first step of realizing a play in production.After the playwright writes it, directors interpret it; actors and actresses make the characters flesh and blood; set designers, costumers, and light designers create the illusions we accept in seeing a theatrical performance; finally, critics interpret the playwright's--and a given production's--meaning.Accordingly, this course will go beyond an emphasis on texts alone, so you can expect to be called upon to read aloud, offer opinions, and move around at a moment's notice.I strongly recommend that you watch videotapes of the plays we are reading this semester.This may be done either in groups or individually, and videotapes can be seen in the A/V center.This class, then, will give you a set of techniques for reading and considering Shakespeare's plays in their fullest possible context.
his plays and poetry Shakespeare often asked more questions than he answered,
so half of the delight of reading Shakespeare's works involves allowing
yourself the challenge of experiencing those questions head-on and considering
them in light of your own views and experiences.In
an effort to assist you with this, I will expect you to join in our classroom
discussions and offer your own opinions.Also,
I will ask each of you to join a small group, with about three or four
of your classmates, to discuss and "act" out the plays we are reading.Your
group will be expected to give one presentation (about fifteen minutes)
before the whole class in which you discuss and analyze in detail one aspect
of the play or a character being considered.
strongly recommend that you read from The Riverside Shakespeare (either
the first or second edition).If
you have New Arden editions of the plays, they are also acceptable alternatives;
if you intend to read other editions, please come talk to me first.
class will be web-assisted so that we can go beyond the walls and boundaries
of the traditional classroom.By
using the web, you will have access to many helpful sites about Shakespeare
and his works on the World Wide Web; you will be able to discuss freely
with your classmates and me the texts that we will read for class; and
you will receive specific and helpful instructions and materials that relate
to those plays and poems.
you will make this course YOUR course, and it will become discussion based,
rather than a series of lectures by a more-than-bald professor.As
you either know already or will soon discover, this class will be your
class: it will be run as democratically as possible, with you and your
classmates making many pedagogical decisions.I
see my role in this course as that of an informed facilitator: I will offer
a general format for the course but will allow you liberties in choosing
the directions we will go.I cannot
stress fervently enough the importance of active discussion and participation
for this class.You must commit yourself
from the onset to actively discussing the various dramatic texts that we
will be reading.Your reactions—both
emotional and cognitive, both immediate and those that follow your close
reading and reflection--will be the basis for our classroom discussions.You
must share your unique approaches, understandings, and questions about
the plays we will be reading.Plays
are open to many possible interpretations, so the more viewpoints you and
your classmates hear and express, the more options we as a class can explore.Therefore,
your constant and active participation is required throughout the course.The
success of this class will ultimately depend upon you.
you may already have guessed, because you are both a teacher and a student
in this class, your attendance is required for all class sessions.Attendance
will be taken at the beginning of each period; if you are not present at
that time but come late, it is your responsibility to make sure you receive
partial credit for your attendance.Students
who are often late for class or miss three or more classes will have their
final course grade significantly lowered.
believe students should be encouraged to write well in all of their English
classes.Papers must exhibit good
ideas and good writing.
One of your short writing assignments entails keeping a reading journal, which I will pick up regularly during the term.You will be writing entries--two single-spaced pages per week (handwritten, if legible)--in which you respond to the play assigned for that class session.The entries are an opportunity for you to begin interpreting a play, as well as to raise (and start answering) questions you may have about the text.I will expect you to closely analyze or explicate one character, theme, image, etc. in the play.Again, we will talk more specifically in the near future about the journal entries.Please note that all reading journals must be handed in at the beginning of the class period on the day they are due.Late journals will not be accepted.You are required to post AT LEAST three of your journals online.
of the assigned writings is a one page typed summary of an article about
one of the plays we read this semester.I
am going to insist that your article be an essay from a periodical, not
a chapter or essay from a book.You
can find articles about Shakespeare in journals in our library, for example
in Shakespeare Quarterly, Studies in English Literature, PMLA, or
(English Literary Renaissance).Be
sure to include as part of the assignment the full bibliographic information
in the correct MLA format.Also,
when you turn in your summary, please include a copy of the original essay.
Quizzes, short assignments, presentations, and participation 33.3%
Midterm exam 33.3%
Final exam 33.3%
I would like to remind you of the importance of doing your own work throughout the semester.Presenting other people’s writing and ideas as though they are your own is a serious error.Intentional and unintentional plagiarism are not acceptable and will jeopardize specific paper or journal grades, as well as the final grade for the course.
|The background is from The Riverside Shakespeare.|