ENGL 306: Shakespeare
Ben Jonson claimed of Shakespeare ‘he was not of an age but for all time.’ 2011-12 gives you a unique opportunity to interrogate Jonson’s claim in the light of cutting-edge criticism and performances of Shakespeare, highlighted in February when Lancaster University will host the 10th Anniversary British Shakespeare Association Conference.
Our course examines Shakespeare’s work as a platform where early modern debates about agency and government, family, national identity, were put into play. Simultaneously, we will consider its resonances for readers, viewers and listeners today. We begin with the complex relationship between the written and performed texts of Shakespeare. We will then study their power to shape thoughts and feelings on issues such as gender, class, race, desire, looking at texts written in Elizabeth I’s reign in Term 1 and those written during King James’s reign in Term 2. Screenings of film versions and opportunities to see live theatre performances will complement our reading experiences and feed into seminar discussions. We will consider Shakespeare’s manipulation of genre (comedy, history, tragedy and romance) and the ways the plays make active use of language (verse, prose, rhyme, rhythm) and theatrical languages (costume, stage positions) to generate meaning. The course will consider how, in the past and in the present, Shakespeare’s scripts exploit the emotional and political possibilities of drama.
The plays set for seminars are those listed in the lecture programme. The set text of Shakespeare’s Complete Works is the Norton Shakespeare (International Student Edition) (2008). You must have a copy of the Complete Works as we will be referring to work across the canon and you should have this edition.
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