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Below is the syllabus for the Spring 2004 version of the course. You may also download a version from Prof. Shankar Raman's version of the course (PDF). The syllabus includes background information about the course as well as the reading list.

Also note that an email (PDF) was sent to students during the term regarding the status of the course and workload.

Course Requirements

I expect, and expect you will find rewarding, careful reading and re-reading of the plays as we discuss them. The secondary readings are also designed to help enrich your comprehension and enjoyment of "Shakespeare." Each person will be responsible for helping lead the conversation about one play and one section of the secondary reading.

In addition, I will ask you:

  • to perform in a carefully rehearsed scene from one of Shakespeare's plays;
  • to write three focused and thoughtful essays: one on a relationship between the text and screen or live versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream or Much Ado About Nothing; one with specific attention to theme and language in Othello or Hamlet; and one longer paper comparing two plays in a specific, thoughtful way.
  • to attend screenings of a number of film adaptations, and at least one stage production;
  • to look at and comment upon Shakespeare related websites and online images;
  • to take a final examination;
  • to keep a reading/performance journal, online or in a notebook, for recording your own memories and insights (this is not for me); and
  • to attend and participate energetically in our discussions throughout the semester.

I consider each of these requirements in determining your grade. If you cannot be in class or meet a deadline because of an emergency, please speak with me (in advance, if possible). Otherwise, absences and late papers will adversely affect your grade.

Approximate valuation for grading purposes:

Comparative Essay, 10 Pages 20%
Paper 1, 5 Pages 10%
Paper 2, 5 Pages 10%
Two Short Presentations (On a Play and on a Segment of the Secondary Reading) 10%
Class Performance (Including Contribution to Group Production) 10%
Attendance and Active Participation (In Class, Watching Films, Making Online Contributions, Doing the Reading in a Timely Fashion) 20%
Final Examination 20%

I reserve the right to alter this weighting somewhat in exceptional circumstances; often this works to your advantage.

You cannot participate well if you are asleep, nearly asleep, or woozy with illness. Please take care of yourself-which obviously includes your body. Bring (unobtrusive) food and drink to class if this is helpful.

Written work should be typed or word-processed (double-spaced, with standard margins and font sizes). I shall provide more specific instructions for each written assignment. I shall also provide a stylesheet including information about proper citation of sources; if you have any lingering doubts about the use of material beyond the text itself or about the definition of plagiarism, please speak with me before submitting your work. Any act of plagiarism will be grounds for failure of this subject. The following is the Literature Section's official policy statement:

Plagiarism-use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgement-is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarise will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution consult the style guides available at the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.

In addition to welcoming your participation in class, I encourage you to discuss your ideas and your writing with me during office hours, or at other times convenient for us both. I hope to meet with each of you individually during the first half of the semester.

Shakespeare, in addition to being a great playwright, is a HASS-D (distribution credit) and HASS-CI (communication intensive) subject at MIT.

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