English 417 Shakespeare

Dr. Michael Bryson
Sierra Tower 832
818-677-5695
michael.bryson@csun.edu

 

 

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.

In Shakespeare’s time the threat of political chaos was often personified in the figure of the stage-Machiavel. This kind of figure is portrayed as being capable of any and all nefarious schemes and duplicitous actions. Elizabethans held a notion of the Machiavel as a soulless creature dedicated to endless manipulation, betrayal, and violence as means to power and advantage (not, of course, that such tactics were wholly unfamiliar in England). The question Shakespeare's history plays ask, is how different are the tactics (both onstage and in the realm of “real life”) of the Machiavel from those of the King (or the lover, the lawyer, the lieutenant, etc.)?

Far beyond the purely political, however, the questions that Shakespeare raises in his history plays are often the same questions he raises in his comedies and his tragedies: what are the ethics of power (in relationships and in government), what is the real nature of love, of morality, of jealousy, of forgiveness? This course will explore these questions through Shakespeare's works and the multiple answers proposed therein.

EVALUATION METHOD: Midterm essay, final essay.

ASSIGNMENTS:

Midterm: in the range of 1500-2000 words, this will be comprised of responses to essay questions, and will require you to present an analysis of characters from the blocks of plays we will have read to that point. 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) to back up your arguments.

Final: Final: also in the range of 1500-2000 words, this will be comprised of responses to essay questions, and will require you to present an analysis of characters from the blocks of plays we will have read to that point. 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) to back up your arguments.  The final essay will be due by 11:59:59 PM on 12/15 by email (no physical submissions of finals). In your email subject line, put English 417 final, and make sure your name is on your paper, 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


Final due by email attachment on 5/18 at 5 PM—no physical submissions

Week 1 (8/26)—Introductions, Shakespeare, Sonnets (1-20, 55, 60, 62, 93-94, 116, 121, 130, 138, 141)
Week 2 (9/2)—A Midsummer Night's Dream
Week 3 (9/9)—Richard II
Week 3 (9/16)—Henry IV, part 1
Week 4 (9/23)—Henry V
Week 5 (9/30)—Richard III  
Week 6 (
10/7)—Julius Caesar (Midterm assigned)
Week 7 (10/14)—The Merchant of Venice

Week 8 (
10/21)—Romeo and Juliet  (Midterm due)  
Week 10 (10/28
)—Othello
Week 11
(11/4)—Hamlet

Week 12
(11/11)—Veterans Day--Off.
Week 13
(11/18)—King Lear
Week 14 (11/25)
Off
Week 15 (12/2)—The Tempest
(Final essay due by 11:59:59 PM on 12/15 by email).