An Introduction to Shakespeare

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Over the centuries, Shakespeare’s plays have moved from being primarily scripts for actors to being literary works read by a large middle-class public to being texts for study in the academy. We will consider the ways in which this perennial classic is reinvented as our contemporary, as well as the radical differences between the Shakespearean imagination of social life, erotic life, and the nature of the self and our own. The plays studied will include examples of Shakespeare’s four main genres—comedy, history, tragedy, and romance. Occasionally, we will also read critical essays that connect Shakespeare to issues in contemporary literary and cultural theory. Some previous work in literature or philosophy is desirable.