English 117 - Summer Sessions II, 2020


Class Information

Instructor: Wallis, Christopher
CRN: 74040
Time: TWR 4:10-5:50


    This course will focus on four of William Shakespeare's dramatic works: Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, and The Winter's Tale. Moreover, we will supplement our examination of these plays with some of Shakespeare's poetry (including the Sonnets); dramatic source materials; tracts circulating during Shakespeare's time that contextualize the plays' cultural concerns; and contemporary articles providing critical interpretations. Our inquiry will underscore how the four texts call attention to questions about the origins and transmission of knowledge; we will study such topics as mythic appropriation, the shaping of history, shifting perceptions of gender and sexuality, educational practices, and the passing down of traditions and rituals. We will focus in particular on how the spread of information through gossip, hearsay, eavesdropping, accusations of slander, and misinterpretation can lead us to question the reliability of all knowledge--especially that which we often consider to be self-evident and universal. Throughout this epistemological investigation, we will also consider how contemporary understandings of Shakespeare and his works have been shaped and reshaped over the centuries by editorial practices, critical debates, popular rumor, adaptations, and historical events.

    Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our class will be conducted entirely online and in a mostly asynchronous fashion. Each week, students will be responsible for reading one Shakespeare play and completing a set of tasks connected to the respective dramatic text: contextual readings; a critical essay; short recorded lectures; discussion question bullet points and/or notes; and a formally graded Canvas discussion post. Once per week during the regular class time, a live discussion session focusing on the designated week?s play will be held through Zoom. Though highly recommended, these meetings are not required, and students who are unable to attend live sessions can access these recordings in Canvas. Finally, to cap off each unit students will compose a short written exercise designed to highlight a technique or concern connected to Shakespeare inquiry: word etymology, historical contextualization, editorial glosses, genre characteristics, staging and performance, close reading, and engaging with criticism.


    Short Written Exercises (4)
    Canvas Discussion Posts (4)
    Final Exam


    Twelfth Night, or What You Will, ed. Bruce R. Smith, Bedford/St. Martins, 2001. ISBN: 0312202199
    Much Ado About Nothing, ed. Barbara Mowat, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1995. ISBN: 0743482751
    Measure for Measure , ed. Ivo Camps and Karen Raber, Bedford/St. Martins, 2004. ISBN: 031239506X
    The Winter's Tale, ed. Mario DiGangi, Bedford/St. Martins, 2008. ISBN: 0312167040