ENGL 2217 Shakespeare at the Globe

When the new Globe theatre was hastily rebuilt in a new location in 1600, few could have imagined that it would house some of the greatest plays ever performed. Had Shakespeare stopped writing then, he could still have claimed to have had a brilliant career. Instead, he went on to produce plays that thrill, disturb and move audiences to this day: Othello, King Lear, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. We’ll read (and perform) these plays together, keeping in mind that his drama was shaped by a particular company of actors and a particular theatre at a particular historical moment, but remaining alert to the continuing appeal of the plays in our own culture. Among the questions I expect we'll ask are the following: What makes Shakespeare great? How original is Shakespeare? Was he conservative or radical? Did he reflect, modify or shape his society's ideas about gender and power? What difference does performance make to our experience as readers of Shakespeare’s plays as written texts? Other questions will undoubtedly arise in the course of discussion. Students should come to class well prepared to listen critically and engage in vigorous debate. Evaluation will be based on a major essay, in-class written responses, a performance project and a final examination.