English 509: Shakespeare
Tu/Th 3:30 – 4:45 pm ✣ Humanities Center 13 ✣ Fall 2004
Dr. Brooke A. Stafford Office: CA 304C
firstname.lastname@example.org Hours: Tu/Th 11 am – 12 pm & by appointment
Course OverviewThis course is designed to introduce you to Shakespeare’s works. Clearly, in the fifteen weeks of the semester we will only be able to scratch the surface of the corpus of plays and poetry penned by William Shakespeare. However, we will read some sonnets and at least two plays from each mode – comedy, tragedy, history, romance – in order to get a sense of the range of works written by Shakespeare and flourishing in English theater during his lifetime. We will complement our study of the plays with short readings that will help us engage the cultural context within which the plays were produced. In the course of the semester we will not attempt to trace the critical history of each play, nor will we attempt to answer the unanswerable (and frankly, uninteresting) question of what Shakespeare intended or meant. Rather, this course is designed to help you become active and thoughtful readers of Shakespeare’s poems and plays who are able to read them carefully, notice interesting moments in them, and suggest thoughtful and well-reasoned arguments about why those interesting moments matter. We will engage with what Shakespeare imagined and what his imaginings allow us, in turn, to imagine and to think through. This is no easy task, but it is certainly a rewarding one.
Our readings for the semester will be organized according to three major themes: Sexual Politics, Kingship and Nation, and Encountering Others in the Renaissance Triangle. These categories will certainly overlap, and we will build our discussion of later texts on that of the plays we read earlier in the term. Our investigation of all three themes will culminate with our final play – The Tempest. Other questions and concerns that we will consider this semester include: What makes a sonnet a sonnet, comedy a comedy, a tragedy a tragedy, a history a history, and a romance a romance? How does an understanding of these genres and dramatic modes affect our ability to engage critically with these works? How can we, as twenty-first century readers, gain more familiarity and fluency with the language of Shakespeare’s works? How can we identify moments where the language does “double-duty” – not only advancing the plot, but also working on a metaphoric level? What work does the language of the poems and plays do, especially in these moments?
The primary goals of this course are as follows:
1. To foster a greater sense of familiarity and comfort with reading and understanding dramatic texts written by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. By the end of this semeste r, you should be comfortable with reading a dramatic text written during this time period – you should have a sense of what questions to ask about these early texts and of how to engage critically with them.
2. To read these texts figuratively – to go beyond “what it says” in order to think about “what it means” by gaining greater familiarity with the language of these texts and to develop skills in “unpacking” this language.
3. To engage in conversations about these texts that will lead to the development of arguments that address larger “cultural conversations.”
4. To view dramatic texts from multiple perspectives – as a critic, an audience member, a performer, and more – in order to engage with them more fully.
5. To develop and support arguments about the texts, arguments, and conversations we engage with; to develop your own argument about a text that is well thought out and to be able to articulate, support, and defend it both verbally and in writing.
6. To create a learning environment in which all participants take a responsible and active role in the creation of knowledge.
To achieve these goals, all of us will have to arrive in class prepared and ready to go. It will be essential that reading is done on time and that it is done thoughtfully.
Texts and Materials
The following required texts are available at the bookstore. Be sure to buy the editions listed below so that we can all (literally) be on the same page when discussing texts in class.
• The Complete Works of Shakespeare, 5th Edition. Ed. David Bevington [CW]
• Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide. Eds. Stanley Wells and Lena Cowen Orlin [SOG]
You should also have access to the following:
• A good college-level dictionary
• A good writer’s handbook. I like the following: The Everyday Writer, Andrea Lunsford; A Writer’s Reference, Diana Hacker; MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th Edition.
Course RequirementsDiscussion Cards
As one demonstration of your preparedness, you will need to bring a 3X5 card (not a sheet of paper ripped in half, or in quarters) on which you have written two (2) discussion questions, along with some passages that you might point to in order to begin exploring the question itself to each class session. Questions may focus on the primary text or on our secondary reading. We will often draw on these questions to get discussion started in small and large groups. The questions should be open-ended, not factual or answered with a yes/no. These cards will be collected at the end of each class meeting. These cards will be evaluated based on completeness and thoughtfulness; they will comprise 5% of your course grade.
Prepared Readings and Response Papers
During the quarter, you will do prepared readings of a short passage from four (4) of our texts. For the prepared readings, you will choose 10-20 lines to read for the class. These readings differ from an impromptu reading you might do during the course of a class discussion in that they require you to carefully study the passage in order to make choices about how you will present it. You will need to consider how you will deal with rhyme (or the lack thereof), meter, and other devices such as alliteration, etc. (See the list of important literary terms for more). You will also write a 2(full)-3 page response paper analyzing the passage you have chosen in the context of the complete text. Together, these activities ask you to pay extra close attention to the language of the texts we read from a formal, as well as a metaphoric, perspective. These readings and their accompanying papers will comprise 20% of your course grade.
You will write one 5-7 page paper during the first half of the semester and you will turn in a second, 12-14 page, paper at the end of the term. These papers will provide opportunities for you to develop, articulate, and thoroughly support an original argument about our course material. The first paper will focus on a single text and need not include outside sources. For the second paper, you will write a longer research paper. I encourage you to consider using one of your response papers as a starting point for this paper. You may choose to do this either by incorporating another text that we have read (or one that we haven’t read either by Shakespeare or one of his contemporaries – I’d be happy to make suggestions) or by complicating your initial argument, focusing even more closely on the original text. Whatever you choose, I will expect you to engage with recent criticism on the text(s) in this paper. This being the case, I will require you to turn in an annotated bibliography of five (5) recent scholarly articles along with your abstract for the second paper. While I will require that you all submit abstracts articulating your paper topics, I will not require drafts of the papers. However, I am happy to comment on drafts; I will need them well in advance of the paper’s due date in order to have time to read and comment on them and to give you time to make revisions. I will distribute more detailed descriptions of these paper assignments early in the term. In general, however, I require that papers conform to MLA format, are typed using a standard 11 or 12 point font (such as Times New Roman), are stapled, and consist at least of the full minimum number of pages (i.e a 5-7 page paper must be at least 5 full pages long). The shorter paper will be worth 20% of your grade, the annotated bibliography and abstract will be worth 5%, and the final paper will be worth 25%.
Each of you will give a short presentation on your final research paper as well. These presentations will take place at a “mini-conference” during the last two class meetings of the semester. I will provide further details as the end of the term approaches, but these presentations will function to give you an opportunity to share your work with, and also get feedback from, your classmates. This presentation will be worth another 5% of your grade.
Preparation and Participation
This course will be conducted as a seminar and will thus depend on thorough preparation and active participation by all members of the class for its success. Preparation will include various homework assignments, thoughtful reading, and careful completion of all other assignments. Participation in class – largely through discussion – will also be a key part of this component of the course requirements. Several times during the semester, you will self-evaluate your level of participation and I will provide you with feedback. The guidelines for evaluating participation are as follows:
A Level: These students are visible and obvious class leaders. Such a student contributes consistently, regularly, and enthusiastically to class discussion but does not dominate discussion. Talking a lot doesn't guarantee an A. Rather, talking in a way that develops the conversation, builds on the comments of others, and is thoroughly grounded in the text under discussion will lead to an A. A-level participants don't ramble. Perhaps the most noteworthy characteristics of the A participant is that s/he always has very clear evidence from the text (being able to point to relevant passages and concrete details). Moreover, s/he doesn't just talk to the instructor. S/he engages everyone in the class, asks questions or builds on the comments of others, and addresses others' remarks as well as promoting his or her own position. These students are excellent and exceptional in their performance in every class.
B Level: These students contribute regularly to each class meeting. The B-level student has much in common with the A student; what differentiates the two is the degree of consistency of performance. The B student is sometimes a class leader, but not always. The B student is reliable in giving concrete evidence and details, but less specific than the A student. S/he always does good work, usually engages others, but may not do so every class meeting. These students are above average in their contributions in terms of both content and delivery.
C Level: These students give useful and relevant ideas and opinions; however, they may not support their ideas with evidence from the text or they may not contribute very frequently. The C student only rarely engages others in the class by asking questions or furthering points. These students are very obviously not the class leaders, although they come prepared to all class meetings and are productive members of the class. They are average in their work, doing what is required but no more.
D Level: These students are physically present and actively listen, but do not contribute with any regularity, or if they do, their contributions are vague and not carefully articulated. Their preparation and participation is never reliable and they do not make an effort to engage with others in the class.
F Level: These students are often absent. If they attend regularly, they are obviously and frequently unprepared and inattentive. An F-level student may also be one who makes insulting and unproductive comments, talks while others are speaking, or engages in other disruptive or disrespectful behavior. Numerous absences or flagrant rudeness should guarantee a failing grade.
At a three points during the semester, you will be asked to do a self-evaluation of your participation. I will read the first two self-evaluations and assign a provisional grade which will not be entered in the grade-book (or factored into your grade) but will be for informational purposes only and will form the basis of any discussion of how to improve your participation. At the end of the semester, your work over the course of the term will be holistically evaluated and the grade will be counted toward your final course grade.
If you are uncomfortable speaking in class, come talk to me in office hours and we can work on strategies for making class participation less intimidating.
Your grade will be a composite of the previously mentioned elements: Discussion Cards (5%), Prepared Readings/Response Papers (20%), Paper #1 (20%), Annotated Bibliography and Abstract (5%), Final Paper (25%), Paper Presentation (5%), and Preparation and Participation (including attendance) (20%). All assignments must be completed in response to the requirements in order to receive a passing grade for the course. In other words, “skipping” an assignment will result in a failing grade for the course, not just the assignment.
Late and Missing Work
Much of the work we do in this course depends upon each member of our academic community coming to class fully prepared to participate. The failure to arrive prepared hurts your own development as a reader and writer and also hampers our efforts as a class; further, it demonstrates a lack of respect for your classmates and our common goals. Additionally, assignment due dates serve to determine your ability to deal with the course material at a specific point in time and, in the interest of fairness, it is important that everyone have the same amount of time to complete an assignment. For these reasons, I do not accept homework or in-class writing assignments late for credit and I will deduct a third of a grade from your paper grade for each day (including weekends) that it is late. If you miss a class meeting, it is your responsibility to get any assignments from one of your classmates as well as to complete and submit them on time. If you are having problems with an assignment, come talk to me! Do not wait until the day before the assignment is due. Early communication can help you avoid the problems of late homework and papers. Special considerations may be made in extreme circumstances.
Class attendence is required. What is discussed and presented in class cannot be replicated outside of it, so absences will negatively affect your grade. If you must be absent, please contact me in advance. If, in an emergency, this is impossible, please contact me as soon as possible to let me know what is going on. After more than six (6) absences, you do risk automatic failure of the course.
In the case of a weather emergency, I will notify you via the course blackboard site (the announcements page) if class is cancelled. Even if class is not cancelled, please do not come to class if you feel that doing so would put you (or others!) in danger.
Communication and Office Hours
You are strongly encouraged to speak to me about your reading and writing throughout the semester. I very much enjoy meeting and talking with students so, please, feel free to stop by my office to discuss class concerns with me – or just to say hello! Other modes of communication include email and the course blackboard site. I encourage you to e-mail me with any questions and concerns. I have also set up our class blackboard site (you can access this by logging in to Blackboard at www.courses.creighton.edu and clicking on the link for our class). I will use this site to distribute various announcements and instructions or to notify you of changes in our class schedule, so please check it regularly. The discussion board area of the site will serve as a place for you to ask questions of one another, follow up on threads of discussion or initiate new ones, and to work through paper ideas with one another as well. Substantive posts to this board will count toward your participation grade. NB: Be sure that the email listed for you in the Personal Information section of Blackboard is the one you check. If you need help changing it, come see me and we can do it together. Though you may, of course, use an email address other than your CU email, I do encourage you to use your CU account – or at least check it regularly – since it is there that the university will send you official announcements, etc.
A note concerning email: While you can generally assume that I will check my email regularly during business hours (9-5, M-F), and that I will try to answer emails within 24 hours, please remember that it is impossible for me to guarantee that I will be able to get back to you immediately. If you have a question or concern, please get in touch with me as soon as possible – don’t wait until the last minute.
Please let me know if you need accommodation of any sort. I can work in conjunction with the appropriate offices to provide what you need. I’m also very willing to take suggestions specific to this course. This syllabus is available in large print– please ask.
Academic Honesty and Integrity
In this class, we will work together as an academic community of readers, writers, and thinkers. This said, it is also important that each of you experience the course as an individual, creating work that is your own and giving credit where credit is due (using the MLA format) when you use others’ ideas/words in your work. Additionally, all work submitted in this course must be original work that you have done for this course and this course alone. If you do not know how to properly cite a source you are referencing, I will be happy to help you figure it out. The essence of plagiarism is claiming someone else’s work (ideas and/or words) as your own. Plagiarism constitutes grounds for failure of the assignment in question and possible failure of the course. As a concrete reminder of these standards, I will ask you to sign the Integrity Code, which was written by the Student Senate in 2003, at the start of the semester and I will consider it binding for the duration of the term.
Remember, plagiarism is never a good choice. If you are feeling confused, overwhelmed, or unsure about any of our assignments at any time during the semester, please talk with me, during my office hours, before or after class, or via e-mail.
Tentative Semester ScheduleThis schedule is meant to provide you with a basic sense of what we’ll be doing this semester and when we’ll be doing it. Please read the plays in their entirety for the first day of discussion unless otherwise indicated. Also, please remember that all schedules are subject to change. You must attend class regularly in order to remain informed.
Th 8/26 Introductions, Shakespeare’s England and theater; sign up for R/Rs
Week 2 Sexual Politics
Tu 8/31 Background; SOG Part I.1,2,3,5,7,8,13; CW pp. xxix-xliii, visual portfolio, pp. lxxii-xcviii; Taming Act 1
Th 9/2 No Class – View film version of Taming and write short 1-2 pg. response.
Tu 9/7 Taming, SOG 175-185
Th 9/9 Taming, SOG 411-421 Readings/Responses due
Tu 9/14 Much Ado About Nothing
Th 9/16 Much Ado, SOG 114-125 R/Rs due
Week 5 Kingship and Nation
Tu 9/21 Henriad Background, Henry V Acts 1&2, SOG 193-211
Th 9/23 Henry V
Tu 9/28 Henry V R/Rs due
Th 9/30 1 Henry IV
Tu 10/5 1 Henry IV, SOG 472-490 R/Rs due
Th 10/7 2 Henry IV R/Rs due
Tu 10/12 2 Henry IV Paper #1 Due
Th 10/14 The Henriad – wrapping up.
10/18-22 Fall Break
Tu 10/26 Sonnets, SOG 286-288, 295-307
Th 10/28 Sonnets R/Rs due
Tu 11/2 The Winters Tale
Th 11/4 The Winters Tale, SOG 249-266 R/Rs due
Week 12 Encountering Others in the Renaissance Triangle
Tu 11/9 Anthony and Cleopatra
Th 11/11 Anthony and Cleopatra, SOG 231-241, 212-224 R/Rs due
Tu 11/16 Othello
Th 11/18 Othello, SOG 151-163 R/Rs due; Abstracts & ABs due
Tu 11/23 Paper Abstract Workshop
Th 11/25 No Class – Thanksgiving
Tu 11/30 The Tempest
Th 12/2 The Tempest, SOG 492-506 R/Rs due
Week 16 Mini-Conference
Tu 12/7 Paper presentations
Th 12/9 Paper presentations, wrapping things up.
Th 12/16 1:00 pm (our scheduled exam time)– Final papers due. You are, of course, welcome to turn these in earlier if you like.