Shakespeare Course Description
English 205 / Humanities 205
Section 01 [H]
SLN 03967 / 10595 — 3 Credits — No Pre-Requisites
MWF 9:10 – 10:00 am.
Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Avery Hall 355 — Washington State University
Hours: MWF 10:00-11:00, and by appointment.
Office Phone: 509-335-4832
Introduction to Shakespeare
This course was created with no prerequisites to draw non-English-majors who recognize that a university experience is not complete without at least one Shakespeare course but who may hesitate to enroll in a 300-level class they think will be filled with lots of literary and language virtuosi. (Ha! but whatever.) So, we’ll read and see (primarily in the form of film clips) some Shakespeare plays, most of which will be selected by class vote. Since the course is now cross-listed as a Humanities course, indicating an interdisciplinary dimension inclusive of arts and humanities, we’ll give attention to Tudor cultural studies — music, fine arts, dance, history, and more — and consider the viciously and arrogantly maligned Shakespeare Authorship Question.
Zoom meetings will substitute for on-campus face-to-face sessions. About a half hour before each MWF class time, I will send all enrolled students an e-mail reminder and Zoom link.
Why you want this course:
- You can finally work past the trauma of high school Shakespeare.
- Shakespeare essentially created our conception of what a human being is, of human psychology and human relationships. In other words, Shakespeare created us.
- How can you accept a university degree without having taken a Shakespeare class?
- Shakespeare shaped the English language more than anyone else, ever.
- It may be your last chance to master this key field of subtle literacy.
- Shakespeare cultivates sensitivity and sensibility. How much of that is in circulation these days?
- A guy who’s been dead for four hundred years can make you laugh and feel something. That’s a kind of miracle.
Engl/Hum 205 satisfies the HUM requirement for WSU’s University Common Requirements (UCORE), which is designed to help you acquire broad understanding, develop intellectual and civic competencies, and apply knowledge and skills in real world settings. Upon completion of UCORE, you will have the tools needed to seek out information, interpret it, share it, and make reasoned and ethical judgements on a wide array of issues. With these broader goals in mind, this Humanities course will help develop skills to analyze, interpret, and reflect on questions of meaning and purpose as they related to the human condition in all of its complexity.
— Students will gain exposure to and attain an understanding of early modern thought, poetic craft, and drama by poring over the works of one rather well-known English author.
— Students will increase intellectual maturation and clarification of their own values through examination and interpretation of ideas and attitudes in literary/cultural contexts and especially through articulation of these in academic discourse appropriate to the discipline.
— Students will develop skills in verbal analysis, critical thinking, and detection of subtlety through reading, discussion, and writing about some tricky literature. They will participate in a learning community that aims to discover the relevance of the material to their development as humans, possibly in defiance of the modern world of dehumanization.
By the end of the semester, students will be able to:
- explain ambiguities and uncertainties in matters of literary interpretation, authorship, and critical history.
- recognize important themes, Early Modern issues, and timeless human dilemmas represented in literary quotations and visual materials.
- develop relevant critical questions and suggest answers concerning other literature not covered during the semester.
- research for scholarly resources with specific information to illuminate lines, events, and issues in the literature.
- demonstrate their development of scholarly, discipline-appropriate, research methods.
- employ vocabulary intrinsic to Shakespeare studies and, when writing, cite act, scene, line numbers, and Works Cited, correctly in MLA format.
- submit two formal essays — revised, scholarly, analytical writing — plus at least 25 homework paragraphs posted online.
The Arden Shakespeare: Complete Works. Ed. Ann Thompson, David Kastan. Bloomsbury Academy, 2011.
You’ll find this at the Bookie. You would, however, be fine with any scholarly edition(s), even the Signet or Penguin paperbacks for the individual plays if you lack the arm strength and can track them down individually (usually not difficult — even malls have Shakespeare!), so long as you have act, scene, and line numbers in your responsible edition for proper documentation of the plays. I’m still using my out-of-print Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd edition. Since the course is taking place online, I will provide links to decent web Shakespeare editions of each play, I hope.
A part of your life this semester has to become Shakespeare studies. Coasting along with Sparknotes will not save your keester. Responsibly reading and studying Shakespeare can be demanding, but at least we have the opportunity to be doing it together as a learning community, and the course is designed to expect of you approximately six to nine hours a week of studying outside of class. Because classroom interaction is essential for this to be a valuable experience, and because frequent quizzes and homework writings will be exchanged, absences will affect your grade regardless of reason. Here’s the math:
I will frequently ask for relatively minor homework assignments to be turned in (or submitted electronically on the Blackboard system), designed primarily to stimulate subsequent discussion [although it will arise anyway because the readings are so provocative (i.e., cool)] and to practice conventions for writing about literature. At other times I will ask you to answer questions in writing in class, often ad lib responses to the reading before class discussion begins. Homework assignments and quizzes will receive numerical grades (points) and, although these writings cannot be made up (except for a couple optional writings that can take their place), the final semester totals will be curved if necessary. (30%)
You will submit two written projects of manageable length as the essay portions of the two exams. Late papers will receive F grades; failure to turn anything in, even late, will result in an F for the course. But excellent work earns lovely grades! (30%)
Your presence will be kindly requested at two exams. No make-ups. (30%)
Class participation and other service to the learning community will be expected (occasional group work, for example). (10%)
Students with Disabilities:
Reasonable accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities or chronic medical or psychological conditions. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit your campus’ Access Center/Services website to follow published procedures to request accommodations. Students may also contact their campus offices to schedule an appointment with a Disability Specialist. All disability related accommodations are to be approved through the Access Center/Services on your campus. It is a university expectation that students visit with instructors (via email, Zoom, or in person) to discuss logistics within two weeks after they have officially requested their accommodations. For more information contact a Disability Specialist: 509-335-3417. Access Center: https://www.accesscenter.wsu.edu. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting the principles of integrity in all activities, including academic integrity and honest scholarship. Students who violate WSU’s Academic Integrity Policy (identified in Washington Administrative Code [WAC] 504-26-010  and -404) by plagiarizing on any assignment or cheating on any exam in this class will receive an F for the assignment and will not have the option of withdrawing from the class pending an appeal. Maintained dishonesty about the event I will report to the Office of Student Standards and Accountability, who remind us that Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty. If you have any questions about what is allowed or not in this course, ask. It is strongly suggested that you read and understand these definitions and stop plagiarizing that essay on file in your sleazy frat.
Safety and Emergency Notification:
Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus population. WSU urges students to follow the “Alert, Assess, Act” protocol for all types of emergencies and the “Run, Hide, Fight” response for “an active shooter incident” (which, disturbingly, seems to be precisely the one emergency the university expects). Remain ALERT through direct observation or emergency notification, ASSESS your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety and the safety of others if you are able. Sign up for emergency alerts on your account at MyWSU. For more information on classroom safety and related topics, view the FBI’s “Run, Hide, Fight video” and visit the classroom safety page: https://provost.wsu.edu/classroom-safety.
Here’s what a couple students from several years ago thought you should know going into this class: How to Study Shakespeare.
Although there are many people I am happy never to see in person in Avery Hall, I truly do not like “teaching” this remote way. No class should be about the professor’s big face blabbing, especially with Humanities classes where it should be Shakespeare on a big screen: film clips mostly, some document-camera materials and powerpoint slides and musical tracks. I believe I’m doing well in converting to small screens and finding alternate ways of us viewing together what was easier to plug in at the classroom. Most importantly, though, I rely on you to contribute towards making this an experience. It was already too easy for too many students to slink to the back of the classroom and screw around on phones all semester; now the class is on the phone, but the defaults are always to mute both sound and video, minimally existing, certainly not being a part of anything authentically happening. It takes a little extra effort to unmute before speaking, but please chime in to help make this a dynamic experience. And I’d prefer to see you for real too, if you’re presentable.