ENGL403 - Shakespeare: The Early Works

Prerequisite: Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.

Close study of selected works from the first half of Shakespeare's career. Generic issues of early histories, comedies, tragedies. Language, theme, dramatic technique, sources, and early modern English social-historical context.

With the recent success of Shakespeare in film, this online course will explore the early plays of Shakespeare through readings of the 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 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. 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. Students will be asked to write short response papers and two essays of 4, and 8 pages. 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”).