MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND LANGUAGE ARTS
|Course No. and Title:
||ENGL 705: Shakespearean Dramas in Their
||L. Adam Mekler, Ph. D.
||Holmes Hall 228
Wed., Fri. : 1- 1:50
This course examines the major comedies, tragedies, and history
plays of Shakespeare with attention to the Renaissance
This course will emphasize the importance of critical and
analytical skills in examining Shakespeare's dramatic within the
context of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth
centuries. Students will be expected to develop their own
interpretive abilities while demonstrating their ability to
Student Learning Outcomes:
- examine the political and religious factors that influenced
the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and James I of England,
including the Exclusion Crisis and Succession Crisis;
- identify the political and religious factors associated with,
and the connections among the War of the Roses, the
Anglo-Spanish Wars and the Dutch War of Independence;
- examine the Renaissance conceptions of the African, the Jew,
and the woman in terms of racial, national, class, and gender
- examine the influence of and portrayal of these events in
plays of William Shakespeare;
- demonstrate their understanding of course content through
participation in informed class discussions and the preparation
of written discussions of the literature under discussion, both
with and without the incorporation of secondary source
After completion of English 705, students should be able to
- evaluate the influence of specific historical and political
events on Shakespeare's dramatic works;
- analyze the texts assigned for the course in terms of their
historical and political contexts and their engagement with the
themes relevant to the course;
- distinguish between the different texts in terms of their
political and philosophical viewpoints;
- produce effective written arguments, in both oral and written
forms, regarding the texts under consideration.
Note: All secondary sources will be available as PDFs in
Recommended: Romano and Potter, "History is Happening in
and Steggle, Introduction to Renaissance
Literature and Culture
Lake, "Contexts and Structures," from How
Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage
|Labor Day: No Class
|A. Elizabethan Histories
|1 Henry IV
Recommended: Gibson, "Shakespeare and the Cobham
Recommended: McNabb, "Shakespeare's Semiotics"
||2 Henry IV
Recommended: Andrews, "Gender, Genre, and Elizabeth's
Deadline to Select Topic for Brief Oral Presentation
Recommended: Spooner, "Shakespeare's Itinerant
|1 Henry VI
Recommended: Ryan, "Shakespeare's Joan and the Great
Whore of Babylon"
|3 Henry VI
Recommended: Moretti, "Misthinking the King"
Recommended: Slotkin, "Honeyed Toads"
Critical Response Paper Due
|B. Elizabethan Comedy and Tragedy
|The Merchant of Venice
Recommended: Goldstein, "Jews, Scots, and Pigs"
| Julius Caesar
Recommended: Appelbaum, "Shakespeare and Terrorism"
Deadline for Research Paper Abstracts
Recommended: Kurland, "Hamlet and the Scottish
|C. Jacobean Drama
Recommended: MacCrossan, "Othello and the
Tragedy of Cyprus"
Recommended: Smith, "Othello's Black Handkerchief"
Recommended: Lowrance, "Macbeth and the Meaning
of the Political"
Recommended: Barzilai, "Shakespeare's Antitheatrical Vision"
Recommended: Chapman, "Structuring of Racial Antagonisms"
| Final Examination
|Final Research Paper Due
Course Requirements and Student Evaluation:
- Students will be expected to complete all assigned readings
for each session before coming to class and arrive prepared to
- Written assignments will include weekly brief response papers
(ca. 500 words) on the secondary texts assigned for the
course, one slightly longer critical response paper (1300-word
min.), and one fully-documented critical research paper
(6000-word minimum). All written assignments must be
submitted through Canvas to receive credit.
- Written response papers are due at the beginning of
class on the due dates. Late papers will be penalized.
- The critical response paper and critical research paper are
due by 11:59 pm on the due dates. Late papers will be
- The critical response paper and research paper must be on
two separate subjects.
- Students will also give a brief (20-30 minutes) oral
presentation on one of the assigned readings.
- The brief presentation will be selected from a list
generated by the instructor. A written version of the
presentation will be submitted at the time of the
presentation. Although no secondary source material is
required for this assignment, all sources must be clearly
cited in the written version of the presentation.
Oral citation of sources will be insufficient and may lead to
serious consequences (Please familiarize yourself with the
Graduate School's guidelines on academic dishonesty, which can
be found in the most recent catalog).
- Students will also experience a final, essay examination on
the materials covered in the course.
|Weekly Response Papers:
|Critical Response Paper
|Critical Research Paper:
- Shakespeare, William, Collected Works (provided)
- Handouts and On-line Sources
Secondary Texts (e-books):
Thomas Page. Shakespeare's Fugitive Politics.
Edinburgh University Press, 2019.
Simon. War and Nation
in the Theatre of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries.
Edinburgh University Press, 2007.
Ted. A Body
Politic to Govern: The Political Humanism of Elizabeth I.
Scholars Publishing, 2013.
M. C. Shakespeare: The
Poet in His World. Routledge, 2004.
Bradin. A Power
to Do Justice: Jurisdiction, English Literature, and the Rise
of Common Law, 1509-1625.
of Chicago Press, 2007.
Leonidas, and J. D. Mininger, eds. Politics Otherwise:
Shakespeare as Social and Political
Andrew, et al. Shakespeare
and Early Modern Political Thought. Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Historicism From Shakespeare to Milton. Cambridge
Keith. Shakespeare and
Tyranny: Regimes of Reading in Europe and Beyond.
Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2014
Andrew. Shakespeare and
Renaissance Politics. The Arden Shakespeare, 2004.
and Paul Hammond.
Shakespeare and Renaissance Europe. The Arden
Lisa, and Matthew Steggle. Renaissance Literature
and Culture. Continuum, 2006.
Shakespeare Historically. Routledge, 1996.
Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage: Power and
Succession in the History
University Press, 2016.
Arthur. The Oxford
Handbook of Shakespeare. Oxford University Press, 2012.
Kenneth. The Sources of
Shakespeare's Plays. Routledge, 2005.
C. W. R. D. Shakespeare's
History Plays: Richard II to Henry V: the Making of a King.
History Plays. Edinburgh University Press, 2012.
English Kings: History, Chronicle, and Drama. Oxford
Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare. Cambridge
University Press, 2007.
on Display: The Politics of Shakespeare's Genres. Routledge, 2004.
and Romance in Shakespeare's Four Great Tragedies. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017.
Robin Headlam. Shakespeare’s
Politics: A Contextual Introduction. Continuum,
Other Secondary Texts:
- Baker, David
J., and Willy Maley, eds. British Identities and
English Renaissance Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2002.
- Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the
Human. New York: Riverhead, 1999.
- Brown, Georgia. Redefining Elizabethan Literature. Cambridge:
Univ. Press, 2004.
- Burton, Jonathan, and Ania Loomba, eds. Race in
Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion. New
York: Palgrave Mcmillan, 2007.
- Callahan, Dympna, ed. A Feminist Companion to
Shakespeare (Blackwell Companions to Literature and
Culture) Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005.
- Dusinberre, Juliet. Shakespeare and the Nature of
Women. 3rd. Ed. New York: Palgrave Mcmillan, 2003.
- Fernie, Ewan et al. Reconceiving the Renaissance: A
Critical Reader. New York: Oxford, 2005.
- Fiedler, Leslie. The Stranger In Shakespeare:
Studies in the Archetypal Underworld of the Plays.New
York: Barnes and Noble, 2006.
- Garber, Marjorie. Shakespeare After All. New
York: Anchor, 2005.
- Garner, Shirley Nelson, and Madelon G. Sprengnether,
eds. Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender. Indiana
University Press, 1996.
- Goldberg, Jonathan. The Generation of Caliban.
- Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare
Became Shakespeare. New York: Norton, 2005.
- ---. Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. Norton, 2018.
- Hall, Kim. F., ed. Things of Darkness: Economies
of Race and Gender in Early Modern England. Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.
- Harris, Jonathan Gil. Shakespeare and Literary Theory. Oxford,
UK: Oxford University Press, 2010.
- Hattaway, Michael, ed. A Companion to English
Renaissance Literature and Culture.: Oxford Blackwell,
- ---. Renaissance And Reformations: An Introduction to Early
Modern English Literature. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
- Jorgensen, Paul A., ed. Women, Violence and English
Renaissance Literature: Essays Honoring Paul Jorgensen. Phoenix
AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2003.
- Loomba, Ania. Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
- --- and Martin Orkin, eds. Post-Colonial
Shakespeares . New York: Routledge, 1998.
- MacFaul, Tom. Problem Fathers in Shakespeare and
Renaissance Drama. Cambridge, England: Cambridge
University Press, 2012.
- Mullaney, Stephen. The Place of the Stage:
License, Play, and Power in Renaissance England.
University of Michigan Press, 1995.
- Rackin, Phyllis. Shakespeare and Women. New
York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Schwartz, Murray, and Coppelia Kahn, eds. Representing
Shakespeare: New Psychoanalytic Essays. Baltimore, MD: The
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.
- Vendler, Helen. The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets.
Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997.
- Wayne, Valerie. The Matter of Difference:
Materialist Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press, 1991.
- Wells, Stanley, and Michael Dobson. The Oxford
Companion to Shakespeare. Oxford, UK: Oxford
University Press, 2009.
- White, R. S. Natural Law in English Renaissance Literature.
Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1996.