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COURSE NAME: "Shakespeare "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Summer Session II 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Daniel Connelly
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MTWTH 3:40 - 5:30PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above

 This course is a general introduction to Shakespeare’s plays and an in-depth study of a selection of representative plays including  a comedy, a history, a tragedy, and a romance. Through the close reading of the plays selected for the course, students will learn how to analyze a theatrical text, will study the Elizabethan stage in its day, and consider Shakespeare’s cultural inheritance.
This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 200-level literature classes are required to produce 4-5,000 words of critical writing.

Throughout his writing career, William Shakespeare revealed a considerable artistic debt to Italy and Italian culture. Though there is no evidence to suggest he left England, Italian settings feature in more than a third of his plays. From his first tragedy, the blood-soaked Titus Andronicus, to the racially-charged The Merchant of Venice, and on to the moral and political turmoil of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s Italian plays contain intriguing dramatic obsessions regarding the role of power, family, war, treachery, revenge and love.

This course entails the study of five of Shakespeare’s plays in order to assess how he located and historicized his Italian-based drama. Given that we are in Rome, we will be able to compare directly the archaeology of Shakespeare’s creativity with the splendors of ancient and Renaissance Italy that are integral to the works we will read.  

Throughout, we will track the intersections of Shakespeare’s dramatic narrative with the notion of Italian ‘cultural difference’ in Shakespeare’s time. In this way we will learn how he dramatizes the Italian ‘Other’. In doing so, we will read his primary sources and evaluate how Shakespeare’s creative brilliance responded to the writings of historians such as Plutarch and Macchiavelli and story tellers such as Ovid, Matteo Bandello and Giovanni Fiorentino. We will also attempt to gauge whether within his Italian plays there exists a veiled critique of the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts in which Shakespeare’s work was widely circulated.

Moreover, we will see how filmmakers such as Joseph Mankiewicz (Julius Caesar; 1953), Michael Radford (The Merchant of Venice; 2004) and Julie Taymor (Titus; 1999) have documented Shakespeare’s obsession with Italy, and how their work both subverts and confirms Shakespeare’s imaginative settings and Italianate compulsions.

This will require primary and secondary source readings, a solid attendance record, active engagement in class, and total commitment to the scope of the course.

Please note that the following text is the ONLY collected works of Shakespeare acceptable for this course.  No exceptions.  

Paperback ("Copertina Flessibile"):  currently Euros 28.65


It is available from Amazon (UK, USA, Italy) and will prove cheaper than purchasing the individual plays.  You can also purchase this edition at JCU’s partner stockist, The Almost Corner Bookstore.

Students will learn to analyse and appreciate the writings of Shakespeare. They will deepen their knowledge of the historical, artistic, and cultural context of the plays, particularly as they relate to Italy and Rome. They will read and analyse primary and secondary sources. They will improve their skills in critical writing and reading.

3 Home Papers2 pages maximum per paper. Full guidelines will be circulated in class. 45
'Stand Up Shakespeare'PASS/FAIL: Each student will present once on an aspect of your reading. These will serve to introduce the class in question to the themes of the day. 10
Attendance and ParticipationThis is a course in which your participation, both in the classroom and beyond, is vital.10
1 Research Paper x 8 pagesA research topic of the student's choice. To be handed in at the last class. 25
In-class quizzesPASS/FAIL: A weekly quiz, given on a Monday, about the text we are to study. 10

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Students are required to attend all scheduled class meetings and to participate in all classroom activities. Students are allowed only two absences (no questions asked, no excuse needed). However, each additional absence beyond the two allowed will result in the reduction of the final grade for the course by 5%. Students with more than four absences will fail the course.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.




Session Focus

Reading Assignment

Other Assignment



Week 1 (July 3-6)

Intro:  Italy and Shakespeare

The Horror of Rome: Titus Andronicus



Titus Andronicus



Quiz on Titus Andronicus on July 8

Week 2 (July 10-13)

Family Feuds: Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Quiz on Romeo and Juliet on July 13; Paper due July 13

July 16: Tempio Maggiore di Roma

Week 3 (July 17-20)

Outsiders: Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice

Quiz on Merchant of Venice on July 20; Paper due on July 20

July 23:  Largo Argentina / Teatro Pompei

Week 4 (July 24-27)

Politics: Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

Quiz on Julius Caesar on July 27; Paper Due on July 27

July 30: The Capitoline Museums

Week 5
(July 31 - August 3)

Love: Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra

Quiz on Antony and Cleopatra August 3

August 4

Research Paper due in class