English 316 Shakespeare: Lovers, Villains, and Kings

Dr. Michael Bryson
Sierra Tower 832


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will explore the sonnets and eleven of Shakespeare's plays, drawn from early, middle, and late periods of his writing career.

EVALUATION METHOD: Presentation (including historical information, and group "acting" of scenes), two essays.  Participation in the scenes/presentations will make up 1/3 of the grade.  The other 2/3 will be based on the grades of the two essays.


Group assignment: You will each be asked to sign up for the play you are most interested in working with at length this quarter, and you will focus your group presentation on this play.  By the end of week 3, I will sign you up into eight groups of five to six apiece. Now, this should be a fairly easy assignment, and my grading standards will be generous. But be in class that day--do not miss that class and then ask me to put you in a group later. 1/3 of your grade rides on this. When your group's play is up that week, approximately half the people in the group will make an eight to ten minute class presentation on a cultural or historical topic related to the play (talk to me about possible topics if you need to—and feel free when making the presentation to use audio or visual material if that will help).  The rest of the people in the group will choose, rehearse, and perform a significant five to six minute scene from the play for the class —bring any necessary props to class on the day of your group's scene (props and hamming it up a bit can make this more fun for everyone).  It will be up to the groups to decide who participates in which of the two presentations, but everyone must participate in one or the other. On the day of your presentation, you will give me a sheet of paper with the names of your group members, and what task/role each is performing. This helps me make sure each group member gets proper credit.

The Essays: in the range of about 1000-1250 words (for the entire essay, not each question), these will be responses to essay questions, and will require you to present an analysis of characters from the blocks of plays we will have read (roughly weeks 1-3—Love, and weeks 4-6—Politics and Power for Essay 1; and weeks 7-15—Tragedy, Villainy, and Madness for Essay 2). These essays will not require secondary sources, but will require you to read the plays closely, and cite evidence from the plays(using MLA citation...see this site for a fairly useful set of examples about how to handle quotations) to back up your arguments. The final essay will be due by 11:59:59 PM on 5/19 by email (no physical submissions of finals). In your email subject line, put English 316 final, and make sure your name is on your paper and in the body of your email, especially if using a non-CSUN address.

READING LIST: Complete Pelican Shakespeare

Statement on Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism is a serious offense that will be treated seriously. Please read the CSUN policy here.

Weekly Preview

I. The Nature of Love

Week 1 (1/25): Introductions

Week 2 (2/1): Selected Sonnets (1-3, 15, 18, 55, 94, 116, 130, 138)

Week 3 (2/8): Two Gentlemen of Verona
(Presentation groups assigned in class--do not miss this day! You will not be assigned to a group later, and there will no makeup assignment.) Once again, as a reminder, on the day of your presentation, you will give me a sheet of paper with the names of your group members, and what task/role each is performing. This helps me make sure each group member gets proper credit. No sheet, no grade.

II. Politics and Power

Week 4 (2/15): Henry IV part 1

Week 5 (2/22): Henry V

Week 6 (3/1): Richard III

Essay 1 (distributed in class 3/1, due in class 3/15)--staple everything together into one paper--do not hand in multiple, separate papers.

III. Tragedy, Villainy, and Madness

Week 7 (3/8): The Merchant of Venice
(Presentation 1)

Week 8 (3/15): Romeo and Juliet
 (Presentation 2)

3/22 Off for Spring Break

Week 9 (3/29): Othello
 (Presentation 3)

Week 10 (4/5):  Julius Caesar
(Presentation 4)

Week 11 (4/12): Hamlet
Presentation 5)

Week 13 (4/19):
(Presentation 6)

Week 14 (4/26): King Lear
(Presentation 7)

Week 15 (5/3):  The Tempest
(Presentation 8)

Week 16 (5/10): Off. Work on your final essay.

Essay 2 (distributed in class 5/3, due by 11:59:59 PM on 5/17 via email)--combine everything in one file/attachment--do not send multiple, separate attachments.

The Humanist (Re)Turn 
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