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English 417 Shakespeare: Fathers and Children

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

 

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

In Shakespeare’s time, daughters (and often sons) are regarded as the property of their fathers, to be disposed of sexually/maritally as the fathers see fit. (To be specific, daughters are the sexual property of their fathers.) This course will explore the father/daughter (and occasionally father/son) dynamic over the course of Shakesepeare’s career.

EVALUATION METHOD: Midterm essay, final essay. Each will account for 50% of the final grade.

EVALUATION STANDARDS: Essays will be graded on a +/- scale, using the usual A-F symbols. Essays must be written carefully, and revised before submission to me, not after.  To achieve the best results, I encourage all of you to write your responses early, and then take a draft of your midterm and final essays into the Writing Center (https://www.csun.edu/undergraduate-studies/learning-resource-center/university-writing-center), located in Oviatt Library on the 3rd Floor, East Wing. (Online tutoring is also available.) I will not review drafts of essays, nor will essays be revisable after I grade them. I expect you to pay close attention to details: do not misspell character names, or fail to italicize play titles, or fail to pay attention to basic citation mechanics and conventions of quotation (and papers must quote relevant material from the plays as evidence—leave summary to SparkNotes and all the other less-than-desirable sources out there on the internet).  See the links below (in the assignment descriptions) for how to handle quotation and citation.

GRADES: An "A+" essay is perfect—a very rare thing.

An "A" essay shows deep thought, attention to detail, and critical thinking. It is well organized and flows naturally, leading the reader through the subject easily. Sentences show variety and planning, and paragraphs are carefully put together. The essay is engaging and interesting to read, and the treatment of the subject is original and intriguing. Clichés, triteness, and "stilted" language are absent. Finally, an "A" essay displays no mechanical, spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors—it has been written as carefully as a letter of application for a job, and has often been revised several times.

A "B" essay possesses most (but not all) of the qualities of an "A" essay. The "B" essay typically shows a fair amount of thought, attention to detail, and some evidence of critical thinking. It may have slight organizational problems; it may have a few mechanical, grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors, or it may employ clichés or trite language in a few places.

A "C" essay is an average effort. It displays most (but not all) the qualities of a "B" essay, with additional problems in thought, organization, and expression. Triteness or clichéd language may be present, or the treatment of the subject, though competent, may be uninteresting or unoriginal. Mechanical and/or spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors are a consistent problem. The essay is understandable and the reasoning adequate.

A "D" essay is below average. In a "D" essay, difficulties with structure, organization, or content make the essay difficult to follow. The treatment of the subject may be inadequate, or the reasoning seriously flawed. Problems with mechanics, grammar, punctuation, and spelling interfere seriously with the essay's effectiveness.

An "F" essay is one in which all of the problems listed in the "D" essay are severe enough to make the paper incomprehensible.

An essay that is plagiarized, or simply not submitted at all, will receive a grade of zero.

In general, the grading scale will be as follows:

Essays

A+     100%
A       95%
A-      90%
B+     88%
B       85%
B-     80%
C+    78%
C      75%
C-     70%
D+    68%
D      65%
D-    60%
F      50%

Work plagiarized or not submitted 0%

Course

A      92.5-100
A-    90-92.4
B+    87.5-89.9
B      82.5-84.9
B-    80-82.4
C+   77.5-79.9
C     72.5-77.4
C-    70-72.4
D+    67.5-69.9
D      62.5-67.4
D-    60-62.4
F      0-59.9

ASSIGNMENTS:

Midterm: in the range of 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 (though the judicious use thereof--if it helps your argument--is not discouraged), but will require you to read the plays closely, and cite (and quote) evidence from the plays (using MLA citation) to back up your arguments.The midterm will be distributed on 10/8 and be due via Canvas submission by 11:59 PM on 10/22.

Final: Final: also in the range of 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. As before, these essays will not require secondary sources (though the judicious use thereof--if it helps your argument--is not discouraged), but will require you to read the plays closely, and cite (and quote) evidence from the plays (using MLA citation) to back up your arguments. If you do decide to use secondary sources, I will not prescribe the number thereof (so don't ask--no more than is useful to you in making your argument). To start looking for what you might need, have a look at the CSUN library's page outlining electronic resources for English. The final essay will be distributed on 12/10 and be due via Canvas submission by 11:59 PM on 12/16.

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

Week 1 (8/27)—Introductions, Shakespeare, Sonnets (1-20, 94, 116, 130, 138)
Week 2 (9/3)—Off. Instructor out of town.
Week 3 (9/10)—A Midsummer Night's Dream; also, see Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (ebook accessible through the library's website), especially pages 178-194 for a description of parentally-arranged and -controlled marriages of the period. (Click here for a typical story .)
Week 4 (9/17)—Much Ado About Nothing
Week 5 (9/24)—Henry IV part 1.
Week 6 (10/1)—Romeo and Juliet 
Week 7 (10/8)—Romeo and Juliet  (Midterm assigned)
Week 8 (10/15)—Othello
Week 9 (10/22)—Othello (Midterm due)  
Week 10 (10/29)—Hamlet
Week 11 (11/5)—Hamlet
Week 12 (11/12)—King Lear
Week 13 (11/19)—King Lear
Week 14 (11/26)—Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Week 15 (12/3)—Off. Instructor out of town.
Week 16 (12/10)—The Tempest

(The final essay will be distributed on 12/10 and be due via Canvas submission by 11:59 PM on 12/16.).

The Humanist (Re)Turn 
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