Fall 2006

HUMS 633
Shakespeare: The Major Plays

Friedberg,Harris A.

09/11/2006 - 12/16/2006
Tuesday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Downey 100

Shakespeare wrote during a troubled age in which many inherited beliefs-in the divinity of the monarch, in the purpose of marriage, in the nature of heaven and hell, and in the relation of servant to master-were increasingly questioned. This course focuses upon the genres and themes of state, subject, and family in nine of Shakespeare's major plays. It attempts to engage them in a dialogue with considerations of these topics in non-literary Elizabethan texts. It assumes no previous knowledge of Shakespeare or his age, but it adopts a rigorously historical approach.

Readings will include these plays: Richard III, Henry IV, Part I and Part II, As You Like It, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Tempest. In addition, students will be responsible for a collection of essays and Renaissance documents providing background on the Elizabethan theater and on Shakespeare's histories, comedies, tragedies, and romances. These essays and documents will consider Tudor histories and early modern political thought; marriage and its vicissitudes in the early modern period; tragic genres of revenge and the division of the kingdom on the Elizabethan stage; and colonialism and the relation of servants to masters. Most of these will be available on a course Web site. Other secondary materials, including critical essays on the plays, will be provided both on electronic reserve and as photocopies.

Students will write two papers and make one presentation.

Class attendance is required.

Students are expected to have read Richard II in preparation for the first class meeting.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Harris Friedberg (B.A. Harvard University; Ph. D. Yale University) is associate professor of English. Recent publications include: "Prose and Poetry: Wimsatt's Verbal Icon and the Romantic Poetics of New Criticism," Poetics Today, 26 (2005). Click here for more information about Harris Friedberg.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Shakespeare, RICHARD II (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, HENRY IV PART 1 (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, HENRY IV PART 2 (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, AS YOU LIKE IT (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, MEASURE FOR MEASURE (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, HAMLET (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, KING LEAR (Penguin), Paperback

Shakespeare, THE TEMPEST (Penguin), Paperback


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