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English 361: Shakespeare's Comedies and Histories

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          A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595)

       • Henry IV, Part I (1597)

        • Henry IV, Part II (1597)

        Twelfth Night (1599)

      Much Ado About Nothing (1598)

           Measure for Measure (1604)

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"With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his.... It would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)


“I have good reason to be content, for thank God I can read and perhaps understand Shakespeare to his depths.”

John Keats (1795-1821)



“I believe Shakespeare was not a whit more intelligible in his own day than he is now to an educated man, except for a few local allusions of no consequence.  He is of no age—nor of any religion, or party or profession.  The body and substance of his works come out of the unfathomable depths of his own oceanic mind: his observation and reading, which was considerable, supplied him with the drapery of his figures.” 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)


“I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me.”


Charles Darwin (1809-1882)


While opinions on Shakespeare vary, each of these important historical figures finds his works worthy of comment.  Shakespeare’s predominance in the literary canon is rarely questioned and his drama continues to have widespread popular and scholarly appeal.  His rich and multi-faceted language, his vivid and complex characters, and his nuanced understanding of the human condition have earned him a predominant place in Western culture. Shakespeare’s work speaks across cultures and across history--across space and time--like no other. 


Those of us who approach Shakespeare’s works as literary texts often neglect their essential performance aspect other than the basic historical facts.  We will be watching and discussing films occasionally to supplement our literary studies, and students will create short digital video clips of themes and/or scenes.


What's Up

In The Guardian:

"Shakespeare's Sonnets Encoded on DNA"

Shakespeare is better than therapy (new study says)!

"Would Shakespeare

Get Into Swarthmore?


* * * *

The Guardian links Anne Hathaway to a new film version of The Taming of the Shrew


Sites of Interest

The New Globe for all things Middle Ages through Restoration




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