Dr. Don King‎ > ‎Course Syllabi‎ > ‎

English 301


Fall 2017
English 301: Shakespeare, 3 credit hours
MWF, 12-1 p.m.
Belk 305

Don W. King: Home page
Phone 828-545-3293


COURSE DESCRIPTION: A study of the major plays of Shakespeare with special emphasis on the tragedies and comedies.

COURSE RATIONALE: Because William Shakespeare is acknowledged as the most important writer in the English tradition, a course on his writings is a key part of a liberal arts education. No one has done more to invigorate the English language than he, and few have done as much in literature to portray the human condition. Indeed, to understand and appreciate English literature since his time, one must be familiar with his plays and poetry.



The Complete Pelican Shakespeare. Ed. by Alfred Harbage.

The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare Studies. 2nd edition. Ed. by Russ McDonald.

Strongly recommended:

A Handbook to Literature, Eds. William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th ed), Ed. Joseph Gibaldi.

Also, see Oxford Reference Online www.oxfordreference.com for some basic reference assistance.  It contains desktop access to 100 key Oxford dictionaries and reference works. The Core Collection brings together 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works - containing well over 60,000 pages - into a single cross-searchable resource.  Also, see the Oxford English Dictionary, the grandfather of all dictionaries at http://dictionary.oed.com 

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The central objective of this course is for you to read, view (when possible), discuss, and study the important comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances of William Shakespeare. As a part of this study, you will learn and demonstrate a knowledge of these literary genres. In addition, you will explore Shakespeare's use of language, especially as a "wordsmith," and his portryals of leadership, both good and bad. A final concern will be an investigation of the role of love--eros, philia, storge, and agape--in his work. Of special focus, therefore, will be the role of love and marriage.

Additionally, there are several questions we will consider as we work through the plays, including but not limited to

  1. How does Shakespeare's portrayal of romantic love in the early comedies relate to a biblical view of romantic love? The mature comedies? What biblical texts comment upon the idea of romantic love?

  2. In Shakespeare's "problem comedies," what is the relationship between law and grace? In what ways does his understanding of this relationship reflect a biblical one?

  3. What appears to be Shakespeare's view of the nature of humankind in his histories and tragedies? Are we beasts or created "a little lower than the angels"?

  4. How does Shakespeare's knowledge of biblical passages, themes, motifs, ideas, and principles inform his plays? In what ways does he draw upon these rich resources as an artist?

  5. What are the roles of confession, repentance, forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation in his final plays, the romances? Is Shakespeare's understanding of these principles biblically informed and how so?

  6. What appears to be Shakespeare's view of marriage? Do his plays reflect a static view of marriage or an evolving one? How so?


  1. That you read and analyze eight to ten Shakespearean plays and a selection of his sonnets.

  2. That you understand and are able to discuss the following literary genres:  Shakespearean sonnets, comedy, history, tragedy, and romance.

  3. That you write two book reviews (a review of a live play production may be substituted for one book review) concerning Shakespeare's work.

  4. That you  write an analytical essay and demonstrate your ability to gather information and present it effectively by combining summary with analysis, application with theory, and research with synthesis. 

  5. That you develop a creative project on some aspect of Shakespeare as mutually agreed upon between you and me.

  6. That you learn to value the literature covered in this course as something that can enrich your life, revealing the complexity of the human experience and informing your spiritual life.


Week 1 Course introduction (on your own view the 1998 film, Shakespeare in Love)

Week 2 A Comedy of Errors

Week 3 The Taming of the Shrew; essay

Week 4 Much Ado About Nothing

Week 5 As You Like It

TEST 1: September 25

Week 6 The Merchant of Venice; essay

Week 7 Richard II

Week 8 Henry IV, Part 1

TEST 2: October 23

Week 9-10  Othello

Week 10-11 King Lear

TEST 3: November 13

Weeks 12 The Winter's Tale

Weeks 13-14 The Tempest

FINAL EXAM: December 10, 8-10 a.m.


There will be journals, tests, and in class essays that will constitute 40% of your grade.

  1. A book review of The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare Studies will count 5%. Due October 8, 2017, by midnight via email attachment.

  2. A critical review of a live performance or a book review of a significant critical study of Shakespeare will count 5%. Due November 19, 2017, by midnight via email attachment.

  3. An analytical paper (1,250 to 1,500 words) will count 10%. Due Dec. 3, 2017, by midnight OR a creative project (recitations, well-done skits or video versions of portions of a play, satires, "modern-language" versions of portions of a play, audio recordings, computer presentations, etc.--check out your idea with me and get approval before beginning work on this) will count 10%.  Due any time before the last day of class (all creative projects must be presented to the class).

  4. Tests and essays will count 40%.

  5. Class attendance, participation and discussion, quizzes, journals, group presentations, small group work, in class writing assignments, and assigned readings will count 30%.

  6. There are a total of 1000 pts possible in the course. Final grades will be compiled using the following guidelines:


    1000-900    A to A-
    899-800      B+ to B-
    799-700      C+ to C-
    699-600      D+ to D-
    599-0          F

LIBRARY: All students are encouraged to take advantage of the services and resources available from the library.  You can search the online catalog and the library’s databases by going to http://www.montreat.edu/library/.  Select “Catalog” to search the online catalog or “Electronic Resources” to search the databases.  The catalog lists all of the books in the Montreat College library as well as the holdings of five other colleges.  You may check out books from all of these libraries.  In addition, you may request books or journal articles via interlibrary loan.  From the online catalog, you can also check on reserve materials by selecting “Reserve Desk” and searching by instructor name or course name.  

The web resources provides links to a variety of databases containing journal articles, online reference sources, and electronic books (ebooks).  These web resources are accessible both on and off campus. Ask the library staff for a password for remote access if you live off campus.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: In addition to the books listed below that are on three-day reserve in the library, you can also find there many journals that may be of help in doing research; one in particular is The Shakespeare Quarterly. Of much interest to you, however, will be the multiple resources available on the Internet. For example, see the Ultimate Shakespeare Resource Guide:

Belsey, Catherine. Shakespeare and the Loss of Eden 
Bentley, Gerald Eades. Shakespeare: A Biographical Handbook.
Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy.
Brown, Richard. A Shakespeare Reader.

Bryant, J. A. Jr. Shakespeare and the Uses of Comedy.
Carter, Thomas. Shakespeare and Holy Scripture.
Chambers, E. K. William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems, 2 vols.

Charlton, H. B. Shakespearean Comedy.
Dreher, Diane Elizabeth. Domination and Defiance: Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare.

Dusinberre, Juliet. Shakespeare and the Nature of Women.
Hamilton, Donna B. Shakespeare and the Politics of Protestant England
Harbage, Alfred. A Reader's Guide to William Shakespeare.
----------. Shakespeare: The Tragedies: A Collection of Critical Essays.
Heilman, Robert, ed. Shakespeare: The Tragedies: New Perspectives.
Kasten, David Scott. A Companion to Shakespeare.
Kermode, Frank.
Shakespeare's Language.
Kirsch, Arthur. Shakespeare and the Experience of Love.
Knight, G. Wilson. The Wheel of Fire.
Leech, Clifford, ed. Shakespeare's Tragedies and other Studies in Seventeenth Century Studies.
Marx, Steven.
Shakespeare and the Bible.
McCrum, Robert, et. al. The Story of English. (book and 9, one hour videorecordings)
Milward, Peter. Shakespeare's Religious Background.
Muir, Kenneth. Shakespeare's Sources.
----------. Shakespeare: The Comedies.
Noble, Richmond. Shakespeare's Biblical Knowledge (currently missing).
Orgel, Stephen. Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England. 
Ornstein, Robert. Shakespeare's Comedies.
Parrott, T. Marc. Shakespearean Comedy.
Shapiro, James. Shakespeare and the Jews.
Stoll, E. E. Shakespeare Studies.
Tillyard. E. M. W. Shakespeare's History Plays.
----------. The Elizabethan World Picture.
Yaffe, Martin D. Shylock and the Jewish Question. 


To write a successful paper in this course, you will need to follow a process of planning, writing,
and revising your papers. The Writing Center tutors will work with you one-on-one on any or all
parts of this process. This academic service is available to assist you in becoming a confident writer,
as both a student and a graduate. 
The Writing Center is located in Library 105. The Center is open Sunday – Thursday between 6:00 and
11:00 p.m. An appointment is not necessary. Dr. Kimberly Angle at kangle@montreat.edu if you have questions.
In addition, please know that an excellent internet resource is available to you at all times: Purdue University’s
OWL (On‑line Writing Lab). This site provides an “always on” and authoritative resource for composition,
grammar, and citation. The address is http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:  For all individual assignments students are expected to present their

own work; documentation of research for your literary analysis must follow the specific criteria as
outlined in the MLA Handbook for Writer of Research Paper. Cases of academic dishonesty, including
but not limited to cheating and plagiarism, will result in either of failure of the assignment or of the
course.  For the college's policy on this issue, please click academic integrity


In addition, for all tests and papers you must sign off on the following statement before I will grade your

test or paper: “On my honor as a Montreat student, I certify that this assignment is my own work, except

where I acknowledged the use of the works of others. 


Students with disabilities who may need academic accommodations are asked to speak with the professor

within the first two weeks of class.  Students are also responsible for making sure that proper documentation

of the disability is on file with the college Disability Services Coordinator, Holleigh Woodward. The office

is located in the Health and Counseling Center in the lower level of Bell Library.  The Disability Services

Coordinator may be reached by phone at extension 3538, or by email at hwoodward14@montreat.edu.  

Failure to inform the professor of a disability or provide appropriate documentation to the Disability Services

Coordinator may compromise our ability to provide the accommodations needed in a timely manner. For

more information about Montreat College disability services, see:  


FINAL COMMENTS: This syllabus and other details about the course, including your grades for the course,
Please feel free to set up a personal meeting with me or email me at dking@montreat.edu if you need help with any aspect of the course.

I reserve the right to make minor changes to the syllabus and course requirements as we move through the semester.

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