Shakespeare’s Early Works

Course Number: ENG 201
Transcript Title: Shakespeare’s Early Works
Created: May 8, 2017
Updated: October 10, 2019
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0

Prerequisites

MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Provides a sampling of Shakespeare’s contributions to the three primary genres of early modern theater with a focus on the early comedies, tragedies, histories, and non-dramatic poetry. Introduces the study of Shakespeare’s dramatic techniques, character development, historical and cultural setting, and language. Explores interpretations of Shakespeare’s works by contemporary filmmakers.  Prerequisite: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Interpret a selection of Shakespeare’s early works emphasizing literary elements (i.e. plot, character, setting, theme, motif, etc.) and identify commonalities and make comparisons among them.
  2. Describe Shakespeare and his influence on Western and world literature and culture including the Shakespearean dramatic forms of history, comedy and tragedy.
  3. Identify significant events, developments, and/or ideas in the Western cultural experience and contextemphasizing relevant cultural, historical, and political information to interpret Shakespeare’s purpose, perspective, and use of rhetorical, literary and dramatic techniques.
  4. Engage in close reading, thoughtful discussion and self-reflection about the complex questions the plays and poems present regarding the human experience.
  5. View contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare’s works with comprehension and discernment and with an understanding of the influence of philosophical, historical, and/or artistic phenomena in relation to contemporary Western culture.
  6. Compose thoughtful, critical close reading analyses of literary texts using MLA format, citing and explaining textual evidence in support of a thesis.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

Major 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)

Major

2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)

Not addressed

3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)

Major

4. Use an understanding of cultural differences to constructively address issues that arise in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)

Minor

5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

To establish an intentional learning environment, Core Learning Outcomes (CLOs) require a clear definition of instructional strategies, evidence of recurrent instruction, and employment of several assessment modes.

Major Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed recurrently in the curriculum, regularly enough to establish a thorough understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a thorough understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Minor Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed adequately in the curriculum, establishing fundamental understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a fundamental understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Regular in-class writings
  • Group discussions
  • Student generated discussion questions
  • Close-reading essays
  • Quizzes, mid-term, final exam
  • Responses to study questions
  • Responses to critical texts and/ or podcasts
  • Responses to films
  • Group and Individual performances of soliloquies, scenes, and/or sonnets
  • Group and Individual projects

Texts and Materials

Texts should include Shakespearean works written between 1580 and 1600 (The Taming of the Shrew through Julius Caesar)

  • “The Rape of Lucrece”
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Richard II
  • The Taming of the Shrew (BBC Shakespeare RE-told, 2005);
  • Adrian Noble, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2000);
  • Baz Luhrmann, Romeo and Juliet (1996);
  • Rupert Goold, Richard II (BBC Hollow Crown, 2012).
  • OWL Purdue Writing Resource: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/
  • OER resources-Open Educational Resources available from CGCC library: https://www.cgcc.edu/online/open-educational-resources

Course Activities and Design

  • The determination of teaching strategies used in the delivery of outcomes is generally left to the discretion of the instructor. Here are some strategies that you might consider when designing your course: lecture, small group/forum discussion, flipped classroom, dyads, oral presentation, role play, simulation scenarios, group projects, service learning projects, hands-on lab, peer review/workshops, cooperative learning (jigsaw, fishbowl), inquiry based instruction, differentiated instruction (learning centers), graphic organizers, etc.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Outcome 1: Interpret a selection of Shakespeare’s early works emphasizing literary elements (i.e. plot, character, setting, theme, motif, etc.) and identify commonalities and make comparisons among them.

  • Guide students’ practice of close reading to accomplish interpretative goals including: understanding a work’s key ideas; identifying how a work’s craft and structure reinforce its themes; recognizing how a work connects to others, and evaluating a work’s quality.
  • Close read significant scenes in the studied plays which may include:
    • The subject of deposition in Richard II
      • Flint Castle Scene 3.3
      • Hollow Crown Speech 3.2.160-77
      • Abdication of the Crown 4.1.163-325
    • How rhetorical artifice, rhythm, cadence, and rhyme create meaning in Romeo and Juliet
      • The first kiss sonnet (and quatrain) 1.5.92-109
      • Prologue Prol.1-14
      • Balcony Scene 2.2.33-51
      • Mercutio’s Queen Mab Monologue 1.4.53-94
    • A comparison between The Taming of The Shrew and The Taming of A Shrew
      • Katherina’s final speech The Shrew 5.2.142-185
      • Kate’s final speech A Shrew Line 1546-1582
      • The Shrew Christopher Sly Induction I and Induction 2
      • A Shrew Christopher Sly Line 1-169 and Line 1595-1627
    • Illusion versus reality in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
      • Theseus describes his courtship with Hippolyta 1.1.1-20
      • Bottom’s Vision 4.1.210-229
      • The play within the play 5.1
      • Robin Goodfellows’ final speech 5.1.440-455
  • Develop through close reading students’ awareness of changes in grammar since Shakespeare’s day, and some key items of Shakespearean vocabulary, so that students are better able to understand Shakespeare in the original.
  • Explore through close reading major themes of Shakespeare’s early works which may include:
    • The nature of love and marriage (“The Rape of Lucrece,” The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
    • The role of women (“The Rape of Lucrece,” The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet)
    • Implications of sexuality and unbridled emotion (“The Rape of Lucrece,” Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
    • The role of class and social status (The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
    • The relationship between parents and children (The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet)
    • Appearances versus reality (The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
    • Interrelation responsibility, loyalty and power (The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
    • Freewill versus fate (The Rape of Lucrece,” The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
    • The nature of suffering (“The Rape of Lucrece,” The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
  • Explore through close reading major motifs in Shakespeare’s early works which may include:
    • Celestial imagery (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
    • Animals and Nature (The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
    • Tyrants (“The Rape of Lucrece,” The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II)
    • Clothes and Disguise (The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet)
    • Nighttime/ Sleep and Dreams (“The Rape of Lucrece,” A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet)
  • Develop an understanding of interrelating themes and motifs among the early works through careful reading, discussion, regular writing prompts, close reading analyses, and/or creative projects.
    • Instruct students about how to use thematic instances to arrive at general conclusions regarding how the theme works in the analyzed texts.
      • Teach students how to read carefully, looking for the selected theme or motif and possibly researching ways in which other critics have examined the theme.
      • Help students determine their argument. Will they make a claim for similarity, difference, or superiority about how various works treat the selected theme?
      • Show students how to organize their responses around the works, making each point deal with a distinct work. Emphasize connections and transitions.

Outcome 2: Describe Shakespeare and his influence on Western and world literature and culture including the Shakespearean dramatic forms of history, comedy and tragedy.

  • Familiarize students with William Shakespeare in terms of his biography and education.
  • Provide an overview of Shakespeare’s works and provide an account of the legacy of his work.
  • Acquaint students with the origins of Shakespearean drama in Greek theater, and the major figures who likely shaped his work.
  • Define a variety of Shakespearean dramatic forms emphasizing Shakespearean tragedy, history, and comedy plays.

Outcome 3: Identify significant events, developments, and/or ideas in the Western cultural experience and contextemphasizing relevant cultural, historical, and political information to interpret Shakespeare’s purpose, perspective, and use of rhetorical, literary and dramatic techniques.

  • Describe Elizabethan England in social, historical, and political context.
  • Define the Renaissance as both an historical era as well as a movement in art and literature and explain its influence on Shakespeare’s work.
  • Familiarize students with the major Elizabethan poetic conventions.

Outcome 4: Engage in close reading, thoughtful discussion, self-reflection and literary analysis about the complex questions the plays and poems present regarding the human experience.

  • Questions to consider through discussion and writing about Shakespeare’s early works could include the following:
    • What is the nature of innocence and what are the implications of being too trusting?
    • What is the role of honor in the human experience?
    • To what extent can humility and discretion save life?
    • Why do humans seek revenge and is it ever justified?
    • What are the relative positions of men and women in the marriage relationship?
    • What is the nature of love and is it always for sale?
    • To what extent can we successfully escape predetermined roles and expectations, including gender roles?
    • Why is it so difficult to make relationships work?
    • Why is there a need for a balance between the rational and irrational, between rules and magic, in the interests of love, harmony and creativity?
    • Why are people and events often not as they seem?
    • Why does creativity rely on the unconscious, the magical, and the mysterious?
    • What are the many forms love takes?
    • Why is young love often impetuous?
    • Is hate irrational? Can it destroy love?
    • Why do young people struggle to make their own choices? How do parents' vested interests contribute to the struggle?
    • Does fate exist?
    • How do chance and choice mix to determine outcomes?
    • What are the implications of pride and vanity?
    • What are implications of passivity?
    • Does divine right exist?

Outcome 5: View contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare’s works with comprehension and    discernment and with an understanding of the influence of philosophical, historical, and/or artistic phenomena in relation to contemporary Western culture.

  • Define the nature of adaptation as it relates to film and consider the problem of adaptation.
  • Familiarize students with elements of film including mise-en-scène, cinematography, sound, and editing.
  • Emphasize careful viewing of the films, applying an understanding of filmic elements to accomplish interpretative goals.
  • Upon viewing the assigned films observe and evaluate how Shakespeare has been remade across time and across continents. Discussions may include the following questions:
    • Do elements of film (mise-en-scène, cinematography, sounds, etc.) enhance or detract from an audiences’ understandingof the “original” work?
    • Evaluate a director’s decision to remake characters. How do these alterations contribute to or detract from understanding?
    • Assess a director’s decisions to invent character backstories. Is this an effective technique?
    • Evaluate a director’s decision to retain the Shakespearean language, character and plot, abandon it completely, or create some sort of hybrid where some “original” elements are kept and others are modernized. Should we be able to call these adaptations Shakespeare?
    • Do adaptations enhance or undermine Shakespeare’s work and the audiences’ appreciation of it?
    • How does modern clothing and occasional diversions from the script affect an understanding of the work?
    • Consider the selection of the setting, how does it function?
    • What are the implications of staging events unspoken in the Shakespeare’s play?
    • What are the implications of a director’s decision to invent events in their adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays? Why is this done? How effective is it?

Outcome 6: Compose thoughtful, critical close reading analyses of literary texts using MLA format, citing and explaining textual evidence in support of a thesis.

  • Emphasize close reading as the means to composing thoughtful, critical analyses.  
  • Introduce students to the OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab as a resource to help them with all aspects of essay writing including thesis and content generation, citation, organization, and proper formatting: https://owl.english.purdue.edu
  • Through lecture, teach students “tracking” methods to help them achieve a rich understanding of the text including highlighting, marginal notes, free writing, etc.
  • Review with students the “pitfalls” to literary analysis including plot summary, black and white thinking, and everything is “subjective.”