English 244 - Fall, 2016


Class Information

Instructor: Dolan, Frances
CRN: 53680
Time: W 3:10-6:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Earlier British
Focus: Genre, Method


    2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Commemorations of the occasion include the First Folio touring the United States, performance marathons, and exhibitions. Why Shakespeare? And how is that question connected to the broader one of why literature? This seminar will explore and contest the continuing dominance and prestige of Shakespeare in Renaissance studies, the curriculum, and Anglophone culture more generally. We will discuss the phenomenon known as “Shakespeare,” as well as the body of work attributed to him. We will concentrate on those Shakespeare plays that have inspired the most plentiful, vigorous, and contentious critical and artistic responses, with a focus on approaches that are particularly vibrant now: reboots of some of the most venerable critical traditions (such as philology, bibliography, formalism, and source study) and innovative approaches to how the plays participate in processes of cultural change (esp. focusing on environmental humanities and food studies). We will discuss Shakespeare’s poetry as well as plays including AS YOU LIKE IT, HENRY VI 1 & 2, TITUS ANDRONICUS, MACBETH, WINTER'S TALE, HENRY VIII or ALL IS TRUE and the 18th-century play, THE DOUBLE FALSEHOOD, in which some scholars argue that Shakespeare and Fletcher’s lost play CARDENIO is entombed. I welcome input from participants on which plays we should read. Our goal will be to assemble multiple perspectives on and interpretations of each play that we discuss. The seminar seeks to be of use to: specialists in early British literature; lovers or haters of Shakespeare; students who wish to prepare themselves to teach a Shakespeare play or a Shakespeare course; and students who have an interest in thinking about what literature is and how and why we read it.


    Students will write one early short paper and a concluding research paper (of 12-15 pages), which may expand on the earlier paper. They will also complete a range of assignments, including a short, focused research exercise (such as editing a passage), a teaching exercise (such as designing an activity or assignment for undergraduates), and a flight of fancy (such as creating a Shakespeare cocktail).


    The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England, Ian Mortimer
    Equivocation, Bill Cain
    The Year of Lear, James Shapiro
    The Uses of Literature , Rita Felski
    Double Falsehood , Shakespeare?/ed. Hammond
    The Complete Fairy Tales, Charles Perrault
    Norton Shakespeare, Shakespeare/eds. Greenblatt et al
    I have ordered the newest edition of the Norton Shakespeare because having a complete works will give us flexibility in choosing what to read and will also enable us to discuss the edition itself as a cultural object. However, you may also use single-play editions or another complete works if you prefer.