Skip Course Information

Course Information

Instructor Info:L. Brown Kennedy
Office Extension x5509
TA Info:Sarah Brewer
Zachary Apony
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Monday
01:00 PM - 03:50 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 106

This advanced seminar will meet for three hours weekly to read, in conjunction with selected theoretical and historical material, the texts of eleven plays by Shakespeare. The final selection of plays will be made by the seminar but will include plays from all genres (history, comedy, tragedy, romance.) Questions to be explored include: issues of language, self and identity; the question of rule and authority; the representation of gender in the drama and the social ideology of the period; the staging of power and social position; the relation of actor and audience. Students will be expected: to give opening presentations for specific seminar sessions; to write frequent, brief position papers; and to submit a final portfolio of developed critical writing, including a longer comparative, research- based paper.

L. Brown Kennedy's Office is FPH G 12; Hours are Th 11-12, 1-3 and Mon 3-4 by appointment!

Evaluation Criteria:

Expectations and Evaluation Criteria:

Required work for this seminar falls into three sections:

  • Weekly play reading/ discussion/ written response posts/ joint seminar facilitation:   Students requesting evaluation are expected to participate actively in discussion and team presentations and to complete each week a critical response centered on a close reading of a specific passage from the principal text under discussion the following Monday. These responses should run 250-300 words and should frame a question or point of entry which you think will be fruitful for the seminar to pursue. They are due to the class discussion board by 11pm on the Friday preceding the (Monday) seminar on that play.  (Either write these in Word and paste to the website or save the post to your word processing program so that you can format and print a copy to have with you in class and hand in to me at the end of the seminar.) In addition to posting a response, each member of the seminar is also expected to read all the entries and be ready to discuss them.

 A team of two students will be responsible for starting each week’s discussion based on their selection of one or two of these posts, along with their joint preparation of other discussion questions for the first section (about 45 minutes) of each seminar. For this reason it is crucial that your posts be timely and crucial that you plan ahead to work with your partner when it is your turn to initiate and facilitate. 

In addition to your careful work on the text of the play, expect to spend about 2 hours weekly on secondary reading (criticism, theory, history) in preparation for the second half of the seminar.


  • Participation in a rehearsed scene-study at the close of one of the three units of the class: The class will be divided into three groups, one for each unit, and Zach Apony, our TA, will work with each “cast” to develop and present a scene study on the final play of the unit.  (You will have the opportunity at the start of the term to sign up both for the plays/ seminars you want to facilitate and the unit/ scene study you want to focus on; but realize that changes will be difficult once we are underway.)


  • Two pieces of formal or developed writing: a mid-term paper of 5-7 pages (due March 15) and a final comparative paper of at least 12-15 pages.  The first essay will give you the

opportunity to develop one of your posts in the light of our discussions and your critical/ theoretical reading.  The final paper (due May 6) may grow out of your seminar facilitation or scene study, if you wish, but must be structured around a careful discussion of one other play in conjunction with The Tempest  and involve substantial (documented) collateral reading and research.  While both of these papers will center on your close reading of the language of the texts, ideally they should be allocated so that they take varied approaches to the material, addressing not only interpretive problems based in language, imagery or prosody, but also in staging or another element of “material theater,” The longer paper should also reflect your theoretical and historical reading for the class.  Proposals for the longer paper are due April 1 (look ahead) and will be revised following a conference.


A portfolio containing all work for the term, including returned versions of all responses, together with a self evaluation and self- addressed, stamped envelope, is due May 6.


Additional Info:

The basic text for this course is a complete Shakespeare in a standard Modern edition. Amherst Books has the Norton in stock (if you don’t see it under this course number, ask for it. It is in use for other colleges as well). The Riverside and the Pelican are also good, readily available editions. Each has advantages, but you will need to consult the Norton for Lear.   You may prefer to buy individual texts for ease of transportation—that’s fine as long as you choose standard editions with act/ scene/ line numbers (the paperback Pelicans are well edited and easy to find.)

There will also be readings in criticism, history and theory on reserve and on the class website.

Arthur Kinney’s, Shakespeare by Stages, is at Amherst Books as a recommended text.  You will need to buy it or work with it on reserve.