English 155d: Shakespeare’s Tragedies Fall 2012 M W 2:20-3:50 Prof. Istvan Csicsery-Ronay U-1 O’Hare
Phone: 4683 e-mail: icronay
Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 10-11
and by appointment
Course Text:The Norton Shakespeare: Tragedies, ed. Stephen Greenblatt
In this course we will study Shakespeare’s four most celebrated tragic dramas – Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear – , with a special emphasis on the close reading of texts. We will examine some general theories of tragedy, the historical contexts in which Shakespearean drama emerged, and the relationships among Shakespeare’s poetic language, the production of the plays, and the philosophical questions they raise. Alongside the classic works we will also study the three seasons of the Canadian comic television series Slings and Arrows, which is revolves around the staging of three of the plays.
You will write two analytical papers; the first (3-5 pp.) early in the semester, the second (6-8 pp.) at the end. There will be a midterm and a final exam. There will also be assigned reports for each play on an interesting aspect of the play under discussion. Each of you will participate in at least one group presentation that involves the rehearsal and performance of a scene from one of the plays, followed by a discussion with the class.
Journals and Course Letters: You will keep a weekly journal on your readings, commenting on ideas and motifs that you find interesting or puzzling; each week’s journal should include three entries, of at least 500 words each (roughly two pages). Your entries will be judged by their quality, not by their frequency or length (over the minimum, that is). I will regularly pose questions about our texts and ideas at the beginning of class or between classes; you may use your answers as starting points for journal entries. The journals should be informal, but they should show care and reflection. They are intended to help your focus your thinking. They should give evidence that you are reading the texts carefully, that you are reflecting on the class presentations and discussions, and that you are posing intelligent questions. They will be graded.
Every two weeks I will expect a feedback letter from each of you, reflecting on the texts and discussions, posing questions and offering suggestions. I will respond to these letters as well as I can.
Grades will be determined approximately as follows: papers 40%, exams 25%, reports and group presentations 20% , class participation 15%.
Attendance: You are permitted two unexcused absences. Each unexcused absence over that limit will negatively affect your grade.