English 312f, Fall 2007

English 312f  Shakespeare, the Theater and the Book

Meeting time Wednesday, 1-3:50 PM, Shattuck 217.


(Speaking-intensive course; Theatre Arts 350f-02) In Shakespeare's time, his writings had life both on stage and in print. This seminar invites students to locate the works we study in relation to both the early modern theater and the history of the book, especially the development of a reading audience for popular art. Readings include such works as Romeo and Juliet, the sonnets, Troilus and Cressida and King Lear; current critical debates about gender, sexuality and literary genre will be part of our concern. Substantial opportunity for independent work reflecting each student's own interests.

Meets Humanities I-A requirement

P. Berek

Prereq. 8 credits in department beyond English 101 or permission of instructor; English 210 or 211 recommended; 4 credits; enrollment limited to 15; 1 meeting (3 hours); meets English department pre-1700 requirement; meets English department seminar requirement.


Office Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, 1:30-3:30, and by appointment, 638 Williston Library.

Phones: Library office, 2311; home, 253-9166.

E-mail (pberek@mtholyoke.edu)

Texts for Fall 2007 (available at Odyssey Bookstore)


Romeo and Juliet, ed. Jill Levenson (Oxford World’s Classics)

Shakespeare’s Sonnets, ed. Katherine Duncan-Jones (Arden 3)

Troilus and Cressida, ed. David Bevington (Arden 3)

King Lear, ed. R. A. Foakes (Arden 3)

The History of King Lear, ed. Stanley Wells (Oxford World’s Classics)


A good complete works of Shakespeare, such as the Norton Shakespeare, the Riverside Shakespeare, or the Bevington edition.

Writing and speaking assignments:

Each student, each week, is reponsible for posting a comment or question about the week's reading assignments on the course on-line disussion board. Postings are due by 5 PM of the Tuesday before class.

From time to time, individual students will be responsible for intitiating discussion in class about the reading assignments.

Each student will submit a short (about 5 page) paper at midsemester and a substantial paper involving independent research at the end of the semester. You should aim for a length of about 15 pages in your research paper. As early in the semester as you conveniently can, you should discuss your plans for both papers with the instructor. Some students may decide to use the long paper as a chance to pursue further issues that arise in the short paper, but you are not required to do so. There will not be a final exam.

Each student will give a 10-minute report to the whole class on her long paper project. You may want to speak in some depth about one section of your long paper rather than trying to summarize the whole argument. The oral report, a "first draft" of your paper, gives you a chance to test out your ideas and receive advice from the class (including the instructor) at a time when you still have ample opportunity to revise your work.




[ 12-12-07]


 Sept 7  Fri

What is a book? What is the "history of the book"? What is our object of knowledge when we study Shakespeare? A performance? a printed text? an author? a history?

Sonnets in English, Wyatt to Surrey to Sidney to Shakespeare (handout). What are "poor Petrarch's long-deceased woes"?

Russ McDonald. "What is your text?" (on-line reserve).

 Sept 12  Wed An Excellent Conceited Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, 1597 (Q1). Oxford ed, pp. 361-429. Wendy Wall, "Dramatic Authorship and Print" (on-line reserve).
 Sept 19  Wed The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, newly corrected, augmented and amended, 1599 (Q2) and 1623 (F). Oxford ed., pp. 137-357. De Grazia and Stallybrass, "The Materiality of the Shakespearian Text," SQ 44 (1993), 255-283 (on-line reserves).
 Sept 26  Wed

Romeo and Juliet, continued. Harry Levin, "Form and Formality in Romeo and Juliet. (on-line reserves).

Shakespeare's Sonnets: read first 50 sonnets.

The history of the book and the history of reading: Roger Chartier, “Reading Matter and ‘Popular’ Reading: From the Renaissance to the Seventeenth Century,” in A History of Reading in the West, ed. Cavallo and Chartier (Amherst: Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1999), pp. 269-283, plus notes. Heidi Brayman Hackel, “The ‘Great Variety of Readers’ and early Modern Reading Practices,” in A Companion to Shakespeare, ed. David Scott Kasten, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), pp. 139-157.(on-line reserve)

Oct 1 Mon Lecture by Mary Ellen Lamb: "Old Wives' Tales: Cultural Hybridity and A Midsummer Night's Dream." 4:30 PM, 101 Dwight, followed by reception in Shattuck Lounge.
Oct 2 Tues Informal meeting with Mary Ellen Lamb, 4 PM. 102 Shattuck (Shattuck Lounge).
Oct 3  Wed Shakespeare's Sonnets, edited and unedited. Coleman Hutchison, "Breaking the Book Known as Q," PMLA 121.1 (January 2006), 33-66 (on-line reserve).
    Fall Break, Sat-Tues, Oct 6-9
Oct 10  Wed Sonnets, Troilus and Cressida (at least two or three acts)
    Short Paper Due, Friday, Oct. 12, 5 PM.
 Oct 17  Wed Troilus and Cressida. Eric S. Mallin, "Emulous Factions and the Collapse of Chivalry," (on-line reserve); excerpt from Heather James, Shakespeare's Troy (1997) (on-line reserve).
 Oct 24  Wed The History of King Lear, ed Stanley Wells.
 Oct 31  Wed The Tragedy of King Lear, ed. R. J. Foakes. Leah Marcus, section on Lear from “James” chapter in Puzzling Shakespeare (on-line reserve).
 Nov 7  Wed No class meeting--individual conferences on long papers.
 Nov 14  Wed Screening in class of King Lear, dir. Grigori Kozintsev.
     Thanksgiving Recess, Wed-Sun, Nov 21-25
 Nov 28  Wed Reports on long papers.
 Dec 5  Wed Reports on long papers.
Dec 12  Wed King Lear
    Reading Days,Thursday-Friday, Dec. 13-14. Final Exams, Saturday-Wednesday, Dec 15-19.
    No final exam. Long paper due by end of exam period, Wednesday, December 19, 9:45 PM. Deliver paper to instructor's office along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope for returning paper with comments.