Shakespeare / Delahoyde

English 305
Section 01 [H]
Spring 2001
SLN 27805
MWF 10:10 – 11:00
Todd 303

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Avery Hall 355 — Washington State University
Hours: MWF 9:00 – 11:00, and by appointment.
Phone: 509-335-4832


Course Description:

Four-hundred years later and the guy continues winning Oscars! Obviously Shakespeare’s still got game.

This course will focus primarily on Shakespeare’s earlier plays, comedies and histories, including those that you could see performed this season and/or this summer in the Pacific Northwest (local campuses, movie theaters, etc.) if you were so inclined. If you’re taking the Shakespeare plunge for the first time, fear not: this course will be relatively non-threatening and usually merciful. If you’re “brushing up your Shakespeare,” here is an assortment of mostly greater and some lesser works of the Bard. If you may have to teach some Shakespeare eventually, you’re not alone and we’ll keep this in mind. If you are taking this class because you vaguely suspect you should, you’re probably right.

We’ll shoot for both some general coverage of Shakespeare, for consideration of the big biographical question, and for close focus on several plays (includng a few chosen by the class).

A recently published book on Shakespeare asserts what has been the consensus for centuries: that Shakespeare essentially created our conception of what a human being is, of human psychology and human relationships. In other words, Shakespeare created us. Therefore, I want some answers from this semester, Billy! Therapy is too expensive.

Course Objectives:

To gain exposure to Renaissance (or Early Modern) thought, poetic craft, and drama by poring over the works of one rather well-known English author.

To increase intellectual maturation and clarification of our own values through examination of ideas and attitudes in literary/cultural contexts and through articulation of these.

To develop skills in verbal analysis, critical thinking, and detection of subtlety through reading, discussion, and writing about some tricky literature.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1997.

This is the text ordered 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 following plays:

  • Richard III
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Henry V
  • and two other plays to be elected.

Course Requirements:

A significant part of your life this semester has to become Shakespeare studies. Studying this stuff can be demanding, but at least we’ll be doing it together as a learning community. Because classroom interaction is essential for this to be a valuable experience, and because frequent quizzes and homework writings will be exchanged and no late assignments of any sort will be accepted, more than a few 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 posted to the Bridge), 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.(30%)

Your presence will be kindly requested at three exams.(30%)

Class participation will be expected and you will be responsible for a brief lead-off presentation on a passage or a topic arranged in advance. Your presentation must be dazzling and informative. (10%)

Dr. Michael Delahoyde, Senior Instructor, Department of English
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