English 3123: ShakespeareÕs Comedies

Tanya Pollard

 

2150 Boylan

TR 11:00-12:15

E-mail: Tpollard@brooklyn.cuny.edu

Web: http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/tpollard

Office: 3108 Boylan

Phone: 718-951-5000 x 6216

Hours: T 12:15-1 & 5:45-6:30, Th 10:30-11, and by appointment

 

 

Although ShakespeareÕs tragedies carry more prestige, comedies have historically enjoyed more popular demand.  This course will explore their attractions for audiences, while asking questions about early modern conceptions of the genre.  ShakespeareÕs comedies have been described as festive, romantic, and pastoral, in contrast with the dark, satiric city comedies also popular in the period, but in practice they frequently involve disaster, jealousy, betrayal, apparent deaths, and ambivalent endings.  What sorts of pleasures might these versions of comedy have held out to audiences?  We will consider comedyÕs relationship to tragedy, tragicomedy, satire, and parody, alongside topics such as shipwreck, disguise, deceit, confusion, recognition, reversal, master-servant relations, marriage, appetite, and pleasure. Readings will include Comedy of Errors, Midsummer NightÕs Dream, Twelfth Night, Pericles, WinterÕs Tale, and Tempest. 

 

 

Week

Date

Assignment

Presenters

1

8-29

Introduction

 

2

9-3

Comedy of Errors, Acts 1-2

 

 

9-5

No class

 

2

9-10

Oxford English Dictionary exercise; Library room 383

 

 

9-12

Comedy of Errors, Acts 3-5

1

3

9-17

Midsummer NightÕs Dream, Acts 1-2

2

 

9-19

Oxford English Dictionary research

 

4

9-24

Midsummer NightÕs Dream, Acts 3-4

3

 

9-26

Midsummer NightÕs Dream, Act 5

4

5

10-1

Twelfth Night, Acts 12 N, 1-2

1

 

10-3

Twelfth Night, Acts 3-4

2

6

10-8

Twelfth Night, Act 5

3

 

10-10

Exam

 

7

10-15

No class

 

 

10-17

Pericles, Acts 1-2

4

8

10-22

Pericles, Acts 3-4

1

 

10-24

Pericles, Act 5

2

9

10-29

WinterÕs Tale, Acts 1-2

3

 

10-31

WinterÕs Tale, Acts 3-4

4

10

11-5

WinterÕs Tale, Act 5

1

 

11-7

Tempest, Acts 1-2

2

11

11-12

Tempest, Acts 3-4

3

11

11-14

Tempest, 5 * paper proposal due

4

12

11-19

Exam

 

 

11-21

Research presentations and responses

 

13

11-26

research presentations and responses

 

 

11-28

No class

 

14

12-3

research presentations and responses

 

 

12-5

Research paper due; peer-editing workshop

 

16

12-10

Revised research paper due

 

Course Requirements and Expectations:

 

Attendance

Because your contributions to class discussion are a central part of your work for this course, attendance is crucial.  If you miss more than three classes, your overall grade will drop; at six absences, you may fail the class. Arriving late to class will count as one-third of an absence.

 

Texts

I have ordered Signet Editions of the plays on our syllabus at Shakespeare & Co.; you may purchase them elsewhere if you prefer, and other editions are acceptable as well.  Bringing a hard copy of the play to each class session is a requirement: if cost is an issue, you will find copies in the library, and in an emergency can borrow copies from me.

 

Participation

Learning is a collaborative process, which works best when each of you engages fully with the texts and with each other.  To this end, I will expect you to participate actively in class discussions, and you will be required to present ideas for class discussion on a rotating basis.  Your contributions will determine a significant portion of the semesterÕs grade. In order to build a classroom atmosphere of courtesy and concentration, please avoid behavior that is disrespectful and interferes with othersÕ learning, including rudeness, talking while others are speaking, and ringing from cell-phones, pagers, watches, etc.

 

Writing

Over the course of the semester you will write four short (2 page) papers accompanying in-class presentations, as well as one longer (8-10 page) research paper.  All written work should have a central claim that is well argued, clearly written, and directly supported by close readings of textual passages; the research paper will also incorporate, and respond to, at least three secondary sources.  All papers should be typed, double-spaced, in a 12-point font, with one-inch margins on all sides.  Written work is due at the start of class, and lateness will result in lowering of the grade by one-third of a grade per day.  Any use of othersÕ ideas must be fully acknowledged in footnotes; speak to me if you are unsure about what this means.  Plagiarism is a serious offense, and will result in failing the class and being reported to the DeanÕs Office.

In both short papers and your final paper, please make use of the Oxford English Dictionary and a Shakespeare Concordance; in your final paper, please also research academic articles on your topic in the MLA International Bibliography and Google Scholar.

 

Coursework and grading:

Regular brief quizzes

15%

Short (2 pages) essays, 5% each

20%

Presentations and participation

15%

Midterm exam

15%

Final exam

15%

Final research project (5% presentation, 5% draft, 10% final)

20%

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