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.