Brief Description of Course: This course considers elements of the young writer’s world that might be regarded as shaping forces – or as obstacles – to what Shakespeare ended up becoming. With close attention to selected plays and poems, we explore the intriguing ways that these enter into his early work and are revisited in mature work. Consideration will be given to early modern education, focused on language arts and the classics; to the changing status of the English language; to the evolving institutions of the theatre and the printing house; to class and social status; and, given the dramatist’s own interest in the “potential mood,” not only to what Shakespeare became but also to what might have been.
Required Reading: Selected plays and poems by Shakespeare; selected primary and secondary readings on the contextual themes.
First Three Authors/Texts: Love’s Labour’s Lost; Titus Andronicus; Shakespeare’s Sonnets.
Method of Evaluation: Research skills assignment (20%); close reading assignment (25%); essay with annotated bibliography (40%); “issue sheets” and participation (15%).