EH 360: Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Bad Boys and Good Girls

Fall 2013


EH 360.01 – Shakespeare: Hours: 3. Renaissance background and at least six plays, including history, comedy, and major tragedies. Prerequisite: Course is open to students who have completed the general education requirement in literature


Class location & time:  Tue and Thurs 12:45-2:05pm, Morton Hall 324


Instructor: Dr. Chad Thomas            E-mail:          Phone: 256/824-2383


Office: Morton Hall, Room 206E      Office hours:  Mon-Fri 10-11am and by appointment


Classroom conduct: All students in the class must treat others with civility and respect and conduct themselves during class sessions in a way that does not unreasonably interfere with the opportunity of other students to learn. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in points being deducted from a student’s final numerical average, up to a maximum of 15 points.


Required text:  The Necessary Shakespeare.  4th Edition.  Edited by David Bevington. 2013. Available at UAH Bookstore in the University Center, 256/824-6604. (Also, secondary readings available on Angel, if necessary.)


Required readings include a selection of sonnets, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II, As You Like It, Measure for Measure, Othello OR King Lear (class will decide), Macbeth, Antony & Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.


Course description and requirements: In this class, we will examine a number of Shakespeare’s works that deal explicitly with issues related to gender performativity.  We shall examine the plays as relics of theatrical experiences with attention given to conditions of production in Shakespeare’s theater and to the possibilities for performance in our own time.  We will also consider the connection between performance (especially of gender) and multiple modes of meaning. Requirements include active and close reading, collaborative learning projects, and vigorous questioning of course texts.


Assignments include three short (but formal) written responses, reading quizzes, participation in discussion, a performance project, and two exams.


Learning objectives: This semester, I invite you to:

  • Increase your confidence and enjoyment reading, discussing, and writing about Shakespeare.

  • Detect cultural assumptions underlying the writings of Shakespeare and in the process become aware of your own cultural assumptions.

  • Explore the connections and contradictions between these texts and their contexts.

  • Engage ideas and critical approaches to Shakespeare that may or may not reflect your personal beliefs.

  • Develop your skills as a scholar and writer through close-reading and sustained analysis.

  • Expand your understanding of textual meaning to include multiple interpretive readings and performance possibilities.


Assignment                            Description                                         % of Grade

3 Papers                                   Sonnet; Elizabethan; Jacobean                        30%

Exam 1                                    Sonnet & Elizabethan                                     20%

Exam 2                                    Jacobean                                                          20%

Participation                            See Below                                                       10%

Quizzes & Worksheets            See Below                                                       10%

Shakespeare Festival               See Below                                                       10%


Argumentative papers (30%): In lieu of a research paper, you will complete three short but formal reading responses.  These should be 2-3 pages long, with 1” margins, laser-printed in Times New Roman 12-point font and in MLA format. The first assignment is a sonnet paraphrase and analysis; you will bring this response to class on August 29.  Subsequently, you will compose one response to an Elizabethan play and one response to a Jacobean play. When approaching these assignments, do NOT mistake brevity for a lack of intellectual rigor. Your responses should be formal in tone, utilize textual analysis, and be clear, precise, and thesis-driven. Additionally, these responses should NOT simply rehearse class discussion, though you may use an idea from class as a starting point. I leave the topic up to you, but you might choose to:

  • Engage a thematic issue.
  • Close-read one scene from the assigned reading.
  • Write a character analysis.
  • Examine how a theatrical or literary element (setting, language, character, history, culture, etc.) helps create meaning.
  • Evaluate a play through a critical lens (feminism, Marxism, new historicism, post-colonialism, queer theory, etc.)
  • Focus on a particular scene of the play based on a performance (stage, film, television, adaptation, YouTube, graphic novel, opera, ballet, etc.) 

You should submit these papers electronically in the appropriate Angel Drop Box.  These must be submitted either as Word Documents or in Rich Text Format. 


Examinations (40%): You will take two exams. You may be asked to identify, contextualize, and analyze quotations from the texts, provide short answers for terms and ideas related to readings and lecture, and possibly complete a multiple-choice portion.


Participation (10%): There are several ways I evaluate participation.

  • Class discussion: By far, this is the most important element of active learning and your success depends upon speaking in class and sharing your ideas. Some of you may be shy and find contributing to class discussions difficult. Please talk to me early on in the semester if this is the case so we can discuss strategies to help you.

  • On-line discussion: You are required to post one question/response per class on Angel in the appropriate discussion forum. Post by 10am; consistently late posting will have an adverse effect on your participation grade.

  • Sonnet recitation: We will begin class by reading sonnets aloud, followed by short analysis. Everyone must recite a sonnet this semester, and while you don’t need to memorize it, I expect you to offer an enthusiastic, committed reading, followed by a brief discussion of your deliberative and analytic processes.

  • Comportment: In order for us to engage intellectually with Shakespeare (and each other), we will create a lively class atmosphere in which both you and I feel comfortable to speak our minds respectfully. I expect you to behave like adults – no sleeping, Facebook, texts/ tweets, math homework, side conversations, or otherwise disruptive/distracting behavior.  Leave your cell phones off/laptops in their cases.  If you fail to behave in an appropriate manner, your participation grade will suffer.  In extreme cases, I will ask you to leave the class.


Quizzes & worksheets (10%): You will take daily quizzes covering assigned reading.  Quizzes will be multiple choice and/or short answers and should not take more than five minutes to complete.  I will give quizzes at the start of class, you may not take quizzes early, and if you are late to class and miss a quiz, you get a zero; however, I will drop your lowest quiz grade.  Additionally, throughout the term, I may assign worksheets/study questions to help focus your reading.  Depending on circumstances and the needs of the class, these might be homework or in-class work, and might be completed alone, in pairs, or in small groups.


Shakespeare Film Festival (10%):  In groups of 4-5 students, you will prepare a five-minute video based on one of our readings, and screen it for you classmates.  You may stage a scene as Shakespeare wrote it, present a condensed version of an entire play, update/adapt a play, film a music video version of a play, offer a Twitter version of a play, or anything else that occurs to you.  Your group is responsible for dividing tasks fairly among its members.  In addition to performers, your group may have a director, designers, and/or technicians.  In other words, not all group members are required to perform.  All group members are required, however, to justify their individual contribution to the scene’s preparation.  Performances should be memorized (or read from off-screen cue cards) and your videos can include props, costumes, sound effects, lighting changes, or any other special effects your group deems essential.  On the day of the festival, bring your video to class on a flash drive and at least one group member should introduce the film.

    • Each group will turn in:

    • An annotated bibliography of 4-5 scholarly sources relevant to the play that serves as the basis for your film – ideally, this bibliography will include sources that relate directly to the approach your group has chosen.
    • A log of rehearsal/meeting activities.
    • A copy of your film.
    • Each individual member will turn in: 

    • A justification of what you contributed to the project (1 paragraph)
    • An explanation of your vision for the project, based on analysis of a line, image or metaphor from Shakespeare (1 page).
    • An analysis of the scene’s importance in the play (2-3 pages).  


Grading System: “The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s grading system includes grades of A, B, C, D, F, I, X, W, S, U, P, AU, N, and NC. Instructors have the option of augmenting the course grades of A, B, C, and D with symbols “+” and “-” signifying, respectively, high and low achievement within the assigned grade. These augmented letter grades become part of the student’s permanent record and appear on transcripts, but augmentation of a letter grade does not affect its value for the purposes of the GPA computation.”


Attendance: You may miss class three times without penalty.  Upon your fourth absence, I will lower grade at the rate of one letter grade per absence.  After seven absences (or 25% of the course), you will fail.  As well, arriving late (or leaving early) two times will be counted as one absence; arriving over 20 minutes late (or leaving more than 20 minutes early) will count as an absence.  If something begins to interfere with your regular attendance, please contact me so we can work together to resolve the problem.


Athletic/Academic/Religious absences:  If a class section conflicts with your athletic events, University-sanctioned activities, or religious holidays, please notify me by the third day of class so we can make alternative arrangements. In most cases, I will ask you to turn in your assignment or take exam ahead of your scheduled absence.


Academic Honesty: Your written assignments and examinations must be your own work. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated. To ensure that you are aware of what is considered academic misconduct, you should review carefully the definition and examples provided in Article III, Code of Student Conduct, Student Handbook, p. 93. If you have any questions, please contact me right away.


Use of Prior Work: You may not submit in fulfillment of requirements in this course any work submitted, presented, or used by you in any other course.


Communication: Class announcements will be sent regularly by email and posted to Angel. It is your responsibility to check your UAH account regularly.


The “24-Hour Rule” dictates that at least 24 hours must pass before you can discuss a graded assignment with me. If you would like to discuss a grade, please schedule an appointment and be prepared with specific questions.


Student Success Center, located in 123 Madison Hall, offers students a number of services from tutoring to time-management counseling to career advising to assistance with papers. It’s free and an excellent resource. Visit the Center’s website and learn about the specific programs and assistance the Center offers.


Disability Accommodation: The University of Alabama in Huntsville will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. If you need support or assistance because of a disability, you may be eligible for academic accommodations. Students should identify themselves to the Disability Support Services Office (256.824.1997 or Madison Hall, Room 131) and their instructor as soon as possible to coordinate accommodations.


Proposed Schedule of Readings and Assignments (volatile and subject to change)




Please read a minimum of three acts of each play (plus the editor’s introduction) for the first day it appears on the syllabus and finish reading it by the second class.


Thurs: 8/22      Introductions (Course, Class, Close-Reading, Shakespeare)


Unit I: Elizabethan Shakespeare

Tues: 8/27        “Sonnets” (pp 880-4) and sonnets #1-3, 18-20, 26, 29, 36, 40, 55, 62, 68, 71, 73


Thurs:  8/29     Sonnets #93, 104, 116, 126-30, 135, 138, 144, 147, & 151        

*Paper #1 due in class (sonnet paraphrase and analysis)


Tues: 9/03        The Taming of the Shrew (1590-3)


Thurs: 9/05      The Taming of the Shrew


Tues: 09/10      Romeo and Juliet (1594-6)


Thurs: 09/12    Romeo and Juliet


Tues: 09/17      A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595)


Thurs: 09/19    A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Tues: 09/24      Richard II (1595-6)


Thurs: 09/26    Richard II


Tues: 10/01      As You Like It (1598-1600)


Thurs: 10/03    As You Like It


*Paper #2 due Saturday, 10/05 by 11:55pm


Tues: 10/08      *Midterm Exam


Thurs:  10/10   Fall Break (no class)


Unit II: Jacobean Shakespeare


Tues:  10/15     Measure for Measure (1603-4)


Thurs: 10/17    Measure for Measure


Tues: 10/22      King Lear (1605-6)


Thurs: 10/24    Research Day: meet and work with your Film Festival group


Tues: 10/29      King Lear


Thurs: 10/31    Macbeth (1606-7)


Tues: 11/05      Macbeth


Thurs: 11/07    Antony & Cleopatra (1606-7)


Tues: 11/12      Antony & Cleopatra


Thurs: 11/14    The Winter’s Tale (1609-11)


Tues: 11/19      The Winter’s Tale


Thurs: 11/21    The Tempest (1611)


Tues: 11/26      The Tempest


Thurs:  11/28   Thanksgiving Break (no class)

*Paper #3 due Saturday, 11/30 by 11:55pm


Tues: 12/03      Shakespeare Film Festival & end of semester celebration


Tues:    12/10   *Final Exam