WHY WE STUDY SHAKESPEARE
Because of what we do throughout this course of studying six plays and several sonnets by Shakespeare, here is what I aim to have happened to you by semester’s end.
You will have overcome what fears and hesitations you came in with: that Shakespeare is too archaic and difficult in language to be comprehended and enjoyed.
With the help of audio and video recordings, you will have heard the play’s written text as spoken dialogue—animated, sensible, and emotive—and seen its meanings illustrated by interpretive postures, gestures, attitudes and actions.
In class, you yourself will have vocalized and intoned some of this dialog (possibly practicing to do so as class preparation, day by day and act by act).
With the prompting of my Study Guide questions and observations, and of my essays, you’ll have been led to consider implications and interpretations pointing to each play’s less obvious meanings, themes, and its connections with other plays.
By writing five times, act-by-act, on each play, you’ll have struggled to articulate in your own words how you understand what’s unfolding in plot, character development, themes and implications as the action proceeds. Doing so, you may happen upon a topic and thesis to develop formally in one of your essays.
Taking whatever opportunities we have during the term to attend live productions or new films of Shakespeare’s plays should demonstrate the supreme reason for our studies: to experience a play freshly embodied and vocalized as living drama, fully animated and realized in performance (at the best).
At the end of the course you’ll understand that you have only begun encountering the dramatic and poetic genius of the world’s most famous playwright. You’ll know that the course must now continue under your own direction and that you’re inclined and equipped to carry on, for the rest of your life, a continuing expedition of reading, saying, seeing and
reflecting on his masterpieces.