English 225a Kim Benston

MW 1-2:30 p.m


An "introductory emphasis" study of the major tragedies, with special reference to the evolution of dramatic form, poetic style, characterization, and ideology as they are shaped by Shakespeare's persistent experimentation with dramas of extravagant will, desire, tyranny, skepticism, and death.

Particular attention will be paid to key scenes in an effort to assess both Shakespeare's response to contemporary literary and cultural concerns and the internal reformation of his own theatrical craft. In addition, films of most plays will be screened in order to study the "translation" of the Shakespearean text into other representational media and cultural moments. (Films will be shown in Chase Auditorium on Sundays at 7:00 P.M.) [As film analysis will provide an essential means of engaging issues of performance, we will do some work in basic film analysis, both formal and thematic, as well as in concepts of performance that are both historical and theoretical. For similar reasons, students will be required to view all films; copies will be on reserve at the library for those who cannot attend Sunday night screenings.]

There will also be multiple opportunities for student performance, may the spirit be willing.

Students will write essays of various lengths and kinds throughout the term, including a
mid-term, a director's notebook, and a final consisting of several essays on a variety of topics.

I. The Formation of Shakespearean Tragedy

Richard III
Romeo & Juliet
Julius Caesar

II. Deflecting the Tragic: The "Sharp Edge" of Comedy

Twelfth Night

III. The Tragic Vision

King Lear

English 225a satisfies the “Introductory Emphasis” requirement for the Haverford English major.

Enrollment in this course will be limited to thirty.