ENGB33: Shakespeare in Context II

ENGB33: Shakespeare in Context II



Course Name: Shakespeare in Context II

Instructor: Prof. Yulia Ryzhik

Course Description: An introduction to the plays and poems of William Shakespeare, this course situates his works in the literary, social, and political contexts of early modern England. The main emphasis will be on close readings of Shakespeare’s later plays (roughly from 1603 to 1611), supplemented by literary and historical sources from which Shakespeare drew inspiration. We will encounter Shakespeare at the height of his artistic powers, yet constantly challenging himself to grow and learn from one play to the next, whether by setting up new formal problems or by exploring new psychological depths and heights. Leaving behind the “festive” comedies, we will delve into the troubled world of Measure for Measure, with its pervasive sense of malaise in the state and its people, and of the great tragedies such as Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth, which elevate fundamentally human disasters to a cosmic scale, before concluding with the haunting romances The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.

We will analyze Shakespeare’s works on the page, as texts (sometimes in various versions), and in the context of early modern theatrical performance, and will consider some of the plays’ creative afterlives, contemporary adaptations, and film. Throughout the course we will explore some of the perennial questions and concerns of Shakespeare’s works, such as individual consciousness and conscience, family and relationships, good and bad government, war and violence, race, gender and sexuality.

Course Features & Delivery: This course counts as a re-1900 credit. It is a continuation of ENGB32: Shakesepeare in Context I, but can be taken independently. The course will be delivered online, with both synchronous ("in person") and asynchronous (at your own speed) components, including lecture, discussion, and online modules and activities.

Learn more about Prof. Ryzhik's teaching and research, as well as how to contact her with any questions.


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You can also check for specific D-level seminar topics or for Pre-1900 courses.