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COURSE NAME: "Shakespeare"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 6:00 PM 7:15 PM
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 his work. Through the close reading of the plays selected for the course, students will analyze a theatrical text, will contextualize it in the historical and political environment of the Elizabethan age, and will assess 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.

Students will close read selected plays and poems by Shakespeare, investigating his relationship to the theatre of his own age and the reasons for his enduring popularity. Each play will be introduced in a lecture. We will then discuss the text in detail, focusing on the principal scenes and analysing dramatic development and language. We will work to identify sources and themes, study the cultural and political context and reflect on the changing reception of the plays through time as they acquire new meaning in different social environements. The secondary readings are selected to help broaden students' comprehension and enjoyment of the texts. Students are expected to participate actively in the class discussions and online forums, coming to class having read the assigned passages and prepared with questions and comments.

Particular attention will be devoted to Shakespeare's construction and representation of gender and racial identities, the dichotomy between political conservatism and revolution, and the representation of intergenerational conflict and social change.

Upon completion of this course students will have a good understanding of Shakeapeare's cultural and literary significance in and beyond literatures in English. Students will excercise their critical thinking and writing skills by working on Shakespeare's plays. The weekly forums will help them to break down the works into themes, to consider carefully connections with the cultural and political context and to investigate the enduring popularity and significance of these plays. The group presentations will develop the students' ability to develop and express critical interpretations in a cooperative way.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
HamletShakespeare, William Cambridge UP 2019 ‎ 978-1316606735  Or read online at the Folger Shakespeare Library ; https://www.folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/hamlet/   
Romeo and JulietShakespeare, William Cambridge UP 2003 978-0521532532  Or read online at the Folger Shakespeare Library https://www.folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/romeo-and-juliet/    
Othello Shakespeare, William Cambridge UP 2018‎ 978-1107569713 Or read online at the Folger Shakespeare Library: https://www.folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/othello/   
King LearShakespeare, WilliamCambridge UP 2020978-1316646977 Or read online at the Folger Shakespeare Library: https://www.folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/king-lear/   
Twelfth NightShakespeare, WilliamCambridge UP 978-1107565463 Or read online at the Folger Shakespeare Library: https://www.folger.edu/explore/shakespeares-works/twelfth-night/   

 Mid term paper25%
 Oral presentation:on topic of your choice - pending professor's approval15%
 Weekly posts on forums. Forums are not graded individually but the continued participation in the forum is worth 10% of the final grade10%
 Final Research paper30%
Final exam 20%

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 the course
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.


Attendance is mandatory. More than four absences will result in the lowering of the final grade (e.g. if you have five absences your final grade will drop from A to A-, and so on). More than 8 absences may result in a failing grade for the course.

You must petition the Dean to attend the class remotely. 

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 Session Focus Reading Assignment Other Assignment Meeting Place/Exam Dates
Week 1

Introduction to the course Start Reading Romeo and Juliet
Week 2
Romeo and Juliet General Introduction  Acts I - III    
Week 3

Romeo and Juliet
 Acts IV and V
Week 4
Twelfth Night Acts I-III Presentations
Week 5
Twelfth Night  ActsIV-V    
Week 6
Hamlet Start reading Hamlet Presentations  
Week 7
Hamlet Acts I-III     1st Home paper due
Week 8
Hamlet  Acts IV-V  
Week 9
Othello Start reading Othello Presentations  
Week 10
Othello Acts I-III    
Week 11
Othello  Start reading King Lear  Presentations
Week 12
King Lear  Acts I to III
Week 13   King Lear Acts IV and V  2nd Home Paper due
Week 14

Week 15
Final exams