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Professor Stephen Bluestone
Office: 110B Ware Hall | Telephone: 478-301-4010 | email: bluestone_se@mercer.edu
Office Hours: 9:30-10:40 a.m. (T/Th) and by appointment
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Fall 2008
 
English 332
 
Shakespeare I
In this course we will study the first half of Shakespeare's career, paying special attention to his work in comedy and history.
 
Texts
 
  • The Riverside Shakespeare

  • The Little, Brown Handbook (any recent edition will do)

Download Prep Sheet

 
 

COURSE AIMS AND EXPECTATIONS

In this course we'll study the first half of Shakespeare's career, paying special attention to his work in comedy and history. We'll bridge comedy and history by reading two history plays one of which contains the character of Falstaff, one of Shakespeare’s great comic creations. In our readings we'll trace Shakespeare's deepening understanding of the conflicts between the inner personal world and the outer social one. We'll follow Shakespeare's exploration of the limits of comedy as he shows us how comedy and tragedy sometimes blend into each another. We’ll then finish our reading with Hamlet, a tragedy written in the same year as Twelfth Night, paying special attention to the ways in which these plays are different yet alike. Our overall approach will involve a close look at Shakespeare's humanized villains, as well as at his comic heroes and heroines. Hopefully, we'll learn to enjoy these plays as the creations of one of the most brilliant minds in the history of Western culture.

Assignments will be given on a class-by-class basis. We’ll read a few selected plays closely rather than a large quantity of them superficially. I prefer to keep the reading schedule flexible, since much that happens in a course like this involves discovery and surprise. Often a discussion of a particular play or issue will take several class sessions, since new ideas will lead to new insights and require more class time than originally planned for the material. My goal is to have discussions which are open to possibilities neither I nor my students can anticipate. The amount of reading done on this basis will be the same as the amount the class would do on a set schedule. The plays to be read include The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado about Nothing, The First Part of Henry the Fourth, The Tragedy of Richard the Third, Twelfth Night, and The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. I reserve the right to modify this list as we go along, depending on time constraints.

1. General participation and attendance (10%). Students are expected to attend every class and actively contribute to discussion. There are no general unexcused absences; attendance will be taken at all classes, and the instructor should be notified by e-mail or telephone or in writing if an absence is unavoidable. Students who do not participate in discussion tend to place a burden on those who do, since only a few viewpoints are expressed. All students are therefore required to participate in class discussion. Students with personal reasons for classroom non-participation should contact me at the start of the semester.

Class contribution takes several forms. Students may ask questions at any point during a class; students and teacher may engage in question-and-answer dialogue; the class as a whole may engage in open discussion, sharing ideas and attempting as a group to deepen our understanding of the material. Students should work at participating effectively in all these formats.

Several films will also be scheduled for class viewing. Attendance will be required; advance notice will be given as to time and place.

2. Written work (70%). Two critical papers will be assigned on themes and topics to be discussed; the focus of these papers will be on a conceptual understanding of Shakespearean comedy. The length of the first paper will be approximately five pages, the length of the second paper between eight and ten pages. Both papers  will involve research (the use of at least two off-line sources in addition to the primary works discussed). The final paper will due on the final exam date. These papers are to be well organized and thoroughly proofread.

The format of the first sample student paper in The Little, Brown Handbook in the chapter entitled “Two Research Papers in the MLA Style,” is to be followed; bibliographic and “Works Cited” formats are to be found in the chapter entitled “Using MLA Documentation and Format.” Any paper that has not been spell-checked or does not follow format guidelines will receive an automatic “F.” All corrections and editorial changes indicated by the instructor must be made before the next paper is submitted, otherwise the grade on the following paper will be "F." As above, no exceptions.

All papers submitted for a grade must be kept in a plain tab folder in which each assignment will be placed and handed in with new work. For example, when the second paper is submitted, it must be accompanied in a plain tab folder by the first paper, along with all previous graded work.  All papers are due at the start of class from the author on the specified due date; papers not handed in on time will be penalized one letter grade per day.

3. Preparations and quizzes (20%). There will be quotation quizzes on the plays we read. These quizzes will be given on the second day after each reading assignment is due. There will also be class preparation materials due the first day of each reading assignment. (See attached example.) You should be aware that evidence of preparation will be important in this class. 

4. Grades on the papers (and in the course) will not necessarily be averaged; much weight will be given to improvement. Each student's written and oral work will be assessed on an individual basis, with emphasis on consistency and the achievement of higher standards as the course proceeds.

In addition to the assigned work, each student may do extra assignments based on the course reading (vocabulary lists, for example), campus events (films, plays, etc.), as well as outside reading. This work will be read and graded and included in the above-mentioned folder. Thus, much work in this class may well be individually generated. I call this process making the case for the “A.”

Note: it is course policy that all assigned work (papers, preps, quizzes, exams, etc.) must be completed in order for a student to pass this course.

Further note: An optional final exam is available for those who select it. In my opinion, only those students who feel they are between grades should select this option. The grade on this exam will be used to determine which of two grades (higher or lower) the student will receive.

Another note: the averaging method may be elected by a student if that student so chooses; this must be done at the start of the course. Notify me within a week of the start of the semester. After one week, there can be no changes in the grading system.

 

5. The Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course. The consequences of violating this code are serious, and all students should be aware of this.

 

6. Students with a documented disability should inform the instructor at the close of the first class meeting or as soon as possible.  If you are not registered with Disability Services, the instructor will refer you to the Student Support Services office for consultation regarding documentation of your disability and eligibility for accommodations under the ADA/504.  In order to receive accommodations, eligible students must provide each instructor with a Faculty Accommodation Form from Disability Services.  Students must return the completed and signed form to the

Disability Services office on the 3rd floor of the Connell Student Center.  Students with a documented disability who do not wish to use accommodations are strongly encouraged to register with Disability Services and complete a Faculty Accommodation Form each semester.  For further information please contact Disability Services at 301-2778 or visit the web site at http://www.mercer.edu/stu_support/swd.htm.

 

 

 

ENGLISH 332 CLASS
PREPARATION SHEET

 

STUDENT NAME:

 

DATE:

 

FULL TITLE & DATE OF PLAY

 

Ten points total.

 

1. PICK TWO EXAMPLES OF INTERESTING OR ORIGINAL USE OF LANGUAGE IN THIS PLAY. EXPLAIN IN DETAIL WHY YOU HAVE CHOSEN THESE PASSAGES. 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. IDENTIFY THE COMIC HERO OR HEROINE. THEN BRIEFLY EXPLAIN WHY THE AUDIENCE MIGHT WANT THIS CHARACTER TO SUCCEED. IF YOU DO NOT THINK THERE IS A COMIC HERO OR HEROINE IN THIS PLAY, EXPLAIN WHY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. IS THERE A VILLAIN IN THIS PLAY? IF SO, WHO IS IT AND WHY DOES THE CHARACTER SEEM TO PLAY THIS ROLE TO YOU? IF THERE IS NO VILLAIN, OFFER AN EXPLANATION FOR THIS IN TERMS OF THE PLAY AS A WHOLE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. GENERAL REFLECTIONS ON ANY ISSUE (THIS MAY INCLUDE LANGUAGE, IMAGERY, CHARACTER, THEME, ETC.)THAT SEEMS OF INTEREST TO YOU IN THIS PLAY. CONNECTIONS WITH OTHER PLAYS? DIFFERENCES? SIMILARITIES? THIS QUESTION IS OPTIONAL.

 
   

It goes without saying that the Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course.