ENGL304 - The Major Works of Shakespeare

With the recent 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 film-making. A sustained inquiry of the course, however, 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 two essays of 4 and 8 pages respectively; you will be allowed to revise and expand your response papers for the longer essay assignments. 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”).

The recommended edition for this course will be The Arden Shakespeare series, and the recommended supporting text is The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film (ed. Russell Jackson). In addition to the required reading, you will be asked to watch filmed productions of the play. 


Must not have completed ENGL403 or ENGL404. Two lower-level English courses, at least one in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.