The Critical Essay: Shakespeare

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The Critical Essay: Shakespeare
Writing Course
Course CodeWR2C, WR4C
Years of Operation1999-2005
Sites OfferedCAR, CLN, JHU
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (1999):

From early performances at the Globe Theatre to Denzel Washington and Emma Thompson in Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespearean comedy has thrilled audiences with its bawdy jokes and wise foolishness. This course begins with Shakespeare on the page, focusing on two of the following plays:

  • As You Like It
  • The Tempest
  • Measure for Measure
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Twelfth Night
  • The Winter's Tale

As students become more comfortable with Shakespeare's language, they probe the layers of meaning, moving through wordplay that peppers his texts to uncover his satirical commentary on Elizabethan and Jacobean society.

As students consider the dramatic structure, character, plot, and setting of the texts, they look to the stage and screen. They view scenes from multiple productions ranging from video-taped versions of stage performances to feature film adaptations and examine how the director's choices of set design, staging, and performance affect the delivery of comedy.

Students not only gain an in-depth knowledge of the plays and their social, cultural, and historical contexts, but also consider larger questions, such as the relationship between art and society, issues of identity, and the nature of humor and comedy. Through formal and informal writing, dramatic reading, scene performance, and class discussion, students understand drama more deeply and sharpen their close reading and analytical skills.