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LIT 421-01 Shakespeare: Comedies and Histories

Professor: David Venturo
Tuesday/Friday 3:30-4:50pm

This course explores Shakespeare’s comedies and histories by concentrating on seven plays—four histories, Richard II, Henry the Fourth Parts One and Two, and Henry the Fifth; two comedies, As You Like It and Twelfth Night; and one play that mixes comedy, history, and a little tragedy, Troilus and Cressida.  We will have several goals as we study these plays:  first, to address issues of genre, especially how loosely and flexibly such forms as history, comedy, and tragedy were practiced in Shakespeare’s time; second, to examine Shakespeare’s rhetoric—the amazing language spoken by his characters; third, to historicize his plays by reading them within the cultural, political, and religious context of the times; and finally, to consider them as self-conscious dramas that celebrate their own theatricality and artifice.