Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ENG 201
Course Title:
Shakespeare: Early Works
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Explores the development of Shakespeare's art and contribution to literature, culture, and the English language, with a focus on the earlier histories, tragedies, comedies, and non-dramatic poetry. Introduces the study of Shakespeare's dramatic techniques, character development, historical and cultural setting, and language. Prerequisites: WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores. Recommended prior coursework: ENG 105 and 106. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

1. Identify and discuss qualities of Shakespeare€™s earlier texts and the issues of interpretation and language confronted by readers, actors, and
viewers when approaching his writing.
2. Discuss the development of Shakespeare€™s art and contribution to literature and culture.
3. Read analytically to determine Shakespeare€™s purpose, historical and cultural perspective, and use of rhetorical and dramatic strategies in creating
a play/poem.
4. Discuss how the philosophical and intellectual viewpoints of the English Renaissance shaped Shakespeare€™s writing, and their application today.
5. Engage in thoughtful discussion and self-reflection regarding the social and ethical questions the plays and poems raise regarding human experience.
6. Write coherent and compelling essays that begin to explore the complex questions Shakespeare raises.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The instructor will assess students by employing a variety of the following methods:

  • regular in class writing
  • assigned essays
  • responses to study questions
  • responses to assigned reading of critical texts
  • group performance of soliloquies or scenes of selected plays ("blocking" exercises)
  • quizzes, tests, midterms + final exams
  • attendance at and responses to live performances and films

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, concepts and issues may include:

  • Tragedy
  • Comedy
  • Romance
  • Problem Plays
  • Allegory
  • Satire
  • Morality play
  • Revenge tragedy
  • Tragicomedy
  • Myth
  • Tragic hero
  • Classical drama
  • Soliloquy
  • Setting
  • Scenes
  • Acts
  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Chorus
  • Prologue
  • Epilogue
  • Cross-dressing
  • Blank verse
  • Iambic pentameter
  • Heroic couplet
  • Irony
  • Metaphor
  • Renaissance literary and cultural history
  • The Shakespearean Sonnet form
  • Modern adaptations of Shakespeare's plays
  • History of performance of plays
  • Publishing history

Competencies and skills
The course will introduce and foster understanding of:

  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Understanding Shakespeare's plays through various contexts, such as social, political, historical, artistic conventions and innovations;
  • Writing about drama
  • Visual "reading": critical interpretation of dramatic performance on video or in live theater
  • Critical reading (for instance, of reviews and critical essays)
  • Speaking and listening reflectively
  • Small-group collaboration