ENGL205 - Introduction to Shakespeare

With the success of Shakespeare as a screenwriter, this online course will explore Shakespeare in film. Through readings of Shakespeare plays and their cinematic adaptations, the class will consider whether (and how) the storytelling is aided, or inhibited, by the conditions of filmmaking. A sustained inquiry of the course will be the various media, in different periods, in which Shakespeare has been produced. Rather than considering how Shakespeare has become our contemporary, we will ask the more interesting question of why successive generations have sought to reinterpret Shakespeare and bring him to their own contemporary context. What does this say about the cultural value of Shakespeare? Why does that value transmit so far beyond English-speaking culture? Assignments will involve comparing printed play-texts with the various filmed versions and thinking about the choices made as Shakespeare is produced in a medium he never could have imagined. The class is entirely situated in an online environment, and students will be assessed on their participation in class discussion (conducted on discussion board), blog entries and collaborative work as part of group discussion and group wikis. Students will be asked to write short response papers and three essays of 4, 6, and 8 pages respectively. There will be a final. Plays will include: Romeo and Juliet (and Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet”); Richard III (and Richard Loncraine’s “Richard III” as well as Al Pacino’s “Looking for Richard”); Henry IV, Pt. I and II (and Orson Welles, “The Chimes at Midnight”); and Macbeth (and Akira Kurosawa, “Throne of Blood”).

This is an online course.