ENG374H1F - L0201

Topics in Pre-1800 British Literature: Becoming "Shakespeare" - Apprenticeship and Achievement


Tuesday 1 pm - 2 pm

Thursday 1 pm - 3 pm


L. Magnusson

E-mail: lynne.magnusson@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course

This course considers elements of the emerging 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. As we explore Shakespeare’s trajectory, consideration will be given to early modern education, focused on language arts and the classics; to the changing status of the English language he helped to shape; to the writer’s keen observation of everyday social interaction; to the evolving institutions of the theatre and the printing house; to social status and class rivalry; to gender, sexuality, and race; intergenerational tensions; 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(s)

Selected plays and poems by Shakespeare; selected readings on contextual themes.

First Three Authors/Texts

Love’s Labour’s Lost; Much Ado About Nothing; Venus and Adonis; Sonnets

Method of Evaluation

  • Short first assignment (20%)
  • Essay (40%)
  • Test (20%)
  • “Issue sheets” (10%)
  • Class participation (10%)