Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG374H1F  L0101  M10, W10-12
Topics in Shakespeare: The Tragi-Comedies
Instructor: Dr. Philippa Sheppard

Brief Description of Course: A consummate man of the theatre, Shakespeare, from 1608 onwards, responded to his company’s adoption of an additional, indoor venue, Blackfriars, and new aesthetic demands from his audience by contributing to a fresh genre of drama – the tragi-comedy or romance. Influenced by the sophisticated court masque, Greek myth, and the homely folk- and fairy-tale, these five late plays challenge us to discover a new critical language to discuss them. They are linked not only by their place on the canon, but also by common themes: reconciliation, renewal, and wish fulfilment. Deceptively naïve on the surface, these plays yield rich complexities, poetic, dramatic, and conceptual. These tragi-comedies provoke questions about the nature of power, family identity, and the role of the arts in society. Recent productions on stage and screen will be included in our study.

Required Reading: Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, Two Noble Kinsmen.

First Three Authors/Texts: Shakespeare’s Pericles, Cymbeline, and The Winter’s Tale.

Method of Instruction: Lecture/Discussion.

Method of Evaluation: One in-class essay (15%); one take-home essay (35%); one two hour exam (35%); participation (15%). I will take attendance each class, and make note of oral contributions, to arrive at the participation mark. Attendance is important. Handing in an outline for the take-home essay is mandatory, and receives a 2% bonus on the essay mark if properly executed. Make-up in-class essays only provided for illness or bereavement (with appropriate documentation submitted). Essays should be submitted in class.

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