ENGLISH 2CR3 Shakespeare: Comedy, Play, Ro (C01)
Academic Year: Fall 2018
Instructor: Dr. Melinda Gough
Office: Chester New Hall 329
Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23716
Office Hours: Wednesdays 10:30-12:00pm or by appointment
- Course Objectives
- Textbooks, Materials & Fees
- Method of Assessment
- Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties
- Additional Policies and Statements
- Topics and Readings
- Other Course Information
In this course on Shakespeare’s comic genres, we will read plays ranging from early farce and
romantic comedy through to problem plays and late romances. Shakespeare’s comedies are
often described as festive, in contrast to the darker tragedies. But as we will explore, the plots
and themes of these plays often revolve around revenge, jealousy, violence, and betrayal.
What sorts of pleasures might these plays have offered to audiences in Shakespeare’s own
time? What sorts of pleasures might they offer now? To explore such questions, we will read
closely, with particular attention to Shakespeare’s dramatic language. We’ll also consider
Shakespeare’s comedies as scripts for theatrical performance, both on the early modern stage
Textbooks, Materials & Fees:
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. Folger
Shakespeare Library Edition.
---. The Taming of the Shrew. Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. Folger Shakespeare Library
---. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. Folger Shakespeare
---. The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. Folger Shakespeare
---. Twelfth Night. Ed. Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. Folger Shakespeare Library
Additional readings available via our Avenue course site
NB: We will be attending The Tempest at the Stratford Festival on Sat. Oct. 6 at 2 pm. Please
see “Important Notes” on p. 4 of this document for details regarding how to book your
ticket and reserve your bus seat. If the cost of attending this production poses undue
financial hardship, please speak to Dr. Gough as soon as possible; help may be
Method of Assessment:
Participation (includes 2 Close Reading Worksheets and other tutorial exercises) 10%
2 sets of Discussion Questions and 1 Position Paper 12.5%
Performance Analysis Assignment, due Oct 15 20%
Essay, due Dec 3 27.5%
Final Exam (cumulative; 2.5 hours) 30%
Optional Bonus Assignment: please see Avenue course site for details
Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:
Assignment submission and late policies: (a) Students are expected to retain a copy of each
assignment they submit. (b) Discussion Questions, Position Papers, and Close Reading
Worksheets are due in tutorial on the dates indicated in your tutorial schedule. The
Performance Analysis assignment and the Essay are all due on the due date indicated in this
document. You are also required to submit an electronic copy of each assignment (in .doc or
.docx format only please) to the relevant Avenue submission folder. Emailed copies will not
be accepted. If you do not submit both a printed copy and a hard copy uploaded to Avenue,
your assignment will be assigned a mark of zero and will forfeit written feedback. (c) Late
Discussion Questions, Position Papers, and Close Reading Worksheets will not be accepted
for a mark. All other late assignments will be penalized 5% per day (including weekends), up to a maximum of 7 days. Late work will not receive comments, and assignments submitted
later than 7 days after the due date will be given a grade of zero. (d) Exceptions regarding
due dates will be made in cases of documented illness or family emergency, or for religious
Extensions, SAS accommodations, and additional academic supports: All requests for
extensions on course work must be directed to Dr. Gough in person or via Avenue email no
later than the end of the third week of classes. Please note that all of us learn in different
ways, and that the organization of any course will accommodate each student differently.
Students needing accommodations should therefore to contact Dr. Gough as soon as possible
about your individual learning needs and how this course can best accommodate them. The
university’s office of Student Accessibility Services (SAS) officially approves accommodations
for students with disabilities in order to ensure that each student has a fair opportunity to
perform in McMaster courses. Students who require academic accommodation should make
an appointment with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) -- 905.525.9140 ext. 29652, or
firstname.lastname@example.org -- to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator; academic
accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Even if you do not have a
documented disability, remember that other support services, including McMaster’s Student
Success Centre (https://studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca/), are available to all students.
Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:
You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.
Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.
It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity
The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
- Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
- Improper collaboration in group work.
- Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.
Email correspondence policy
It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student. Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.
Modification of course outlines
The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.
McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)
In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.
Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities
Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail email@example.com. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.
Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances
Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.
Topics and Readings:
Schedule of Readings and Assignments
Please note: With the exception of The Tempest, you are expected to read each play in advance
of the first day it appears on our schedule. As you read, you will need to take notes, moving
scene by scene, pausing to summarize the action in your own words, jotting down questions
and thoughts, etc. Be sure to bring copies of the plays with you to lectures and tutorials: we
will be taking turns reading passages aloud and you’ll also need to mark down specific
passages discussed in lecture in preparation for passage identification and analysis exercises
in tutorials, as well as the final exam.
W Sept 5 Introduction to our course and the teaching team
M Sept 10 The Tempest Act 1
“Reading Shakespeare’s Language” (The Tempest FSE, pp. xvii-xxvi)
W Sept 12 The Tempest Acts 2-3
Mowat, “The Tempest: A Modern Perspective” (The Tempest FSE, pp. 185ff)
M Sept 17 The Tempest Acts 4-5
Last day to reserve discounted group ticket to The Tempest
W Sept 19 The Tempest cont’d
M Sept 24 No regularly scheduled lecture hour (in lieu of trip to Stratford on Oct. 6)
Optional bonus assignment opportunities – please see Avenue for details
W Sept 26 The Tempest cont’d
“Shakespeare’s Theatre” (The Tempest FSE, pp. xxxvii-xlvi)
M Oct 1 The Taming of the Shrew Induction, Act 1
“Shakespeare’s Prosody – A Brief Introduction” (Avenue handout)
Last day to reserve seats on bus to Stratford
W Oct 3 The Taming of the Shrew Acts 2-3
Newman, “The Taming of the Shrew: A Modern Perspective” (Taming FSE, pp. 229ff)
Sat Oct 6: Class trip to The Tempest at the Stratford Festival
Oct 8-12 Mid-term recess
M Oct 15 The Taming of the Shrew Acts 4-5
Performance Analysis paper due in lecture and on Avenue
W Oct 17 The Taming of the Shrew cont’d
M Oct 22 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 1
Belsey, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Modern Perspective”
W Oct 24 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Acts 2-3
M Oct 29 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Acts 4-5
W Oct 31 A Midsummer Night’s Dream cont’d
M Nov 5 The Merchant of Venice Act 1
Leggatt, “The Merchant of Venice: A Modern Perspective” (Merchant, FSE pp. 211 ff)
W Nov 7 The Merchant of Venice Acts 2-3
M Nov 12 The Merchant of Venice Acts 4-5
W Nov 14 The Merchant of Venice cont’d
M Nov 19 Twelfth Night Act 1
Secondary reading on Twelfth Night, TBA (Avenue)
W Nov 21 Twelfth Night Acts 2-3
M Nov 26 Twelfth Night Acts 4-5
W Nov 28 Twelfth Night cont’d
M Dec 3 Course wrap-up; overview of final exam format and preparation tips
Essay due in lecture and on Avenue
W Dec 5 No regularly scheduled lecture hour (in lieu of trip to Stratford on Oct. 6)
Other Course Information:
By the end of this course:
1. You will develop a range of tools for engaging closely with Shakespeare’s dramatic
2. You will gain an introductory knowledge of the historical contexts that shaped plays
written for performance on the early modern London stage.
3. You will engage with Shakespeare’s plays as texts for performance.
4. You will analyze Shakespeare’s plays and formulate plausible interpretive arguments
about them, rooted in evidence from the texts.
5. You will communicate your ideas and analyses clearly and effectively, both orally and
Stratford Trip: Our class will be attending the 2 pm showing of The Tempest at the Stratford
Festival on Saturday Oct 6. In recognition of the extra time involved in travel to Stratford,
lectures will not be held on M Sept 24 or W Dec 5.
Tickets: Discounted student tickets for our group are $25 each (including tax, handling
fees, and the actor chat) and must be reserved, via cash payment, no later than M Sept 17 (our
discount expires on this day). To reserve a ticket, please bring your $25 to lecture and give it,
along with your name, to our senior TA Calla Churchward. Transportation: Buses will take
students to the Stratford Festival and return after the show. We will leave from outside the
McMaster Student Centre (by the parking lot) at 11:15 am, and you will be dropped off at the
same place at approximately 7-7:15 pm. The cost for return bus transportation is $15. Please
confirm your seat on the bus with payment of the fee in cash to Calla no later than M Oct 1.
Scheduling conflicts: If for some unavoidable reason you are unable to attend the group
trip on our scheduled date, you must contact our Senior TA, Calla Churchward, no later than
Monday Sept. 17 to discuss alternate performance dates and/or an alternative performanceoriented
Announcements and Resources on our Avenue course site: Please check our Avenue to
Learn course site regularly for announcements as well as important course-related resources.
If class is cancelled, students will be notified on Avenue to Learn and the English and
Cultural Studies Department Website (http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~english/). It
is your responsibility to check these sites regularly for any such announcements.
Communication: Dr. Gough and the TAs encourage you to drop by during scheduled office
hours (or at other pre-arranged times) to discuss course content and/or your written work.
You should also feel free also to email to us brief, logistical questions. If your email message
requires more than 2-3 sentences in response, the topic is better suited for discussion in
person during office hours or by appointment.
When emailing, please identify yourself by your full name and student number. It is
the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to
instructors, and from students to staff, must originate from the student's own McMaster
University email account or the student’s own Avenue to Learn email. In this course, we
greatly prefer for you to use Avenue Mail: log in to Avenue, select Communication, then
select Email. Alternatively, under Communication you may select Classlist and then scroll
down to find and select your TA or Dr. Gough. Using Avenue email allows the instructor and
TAs to keep an accurate record of course-related email. It also protects confidentiality and
confirms the identity of students.
Dr. Gough will check email every 24-36 hours, Monday through Friday, meaning that
during the work week students can expect to receive brief responses to emailed questions
within 24-36 hours; emails sent over the weekend will be seen on Mondays.
Electronic devices and in-class etiquette: Please be respectful of your fellow students’ needs
to concentrate during lectures, screenings, performances, and discussions, both in our
‘lecture’ hours and during tutorials. Please arrive promptly and do not leave class early
except if you suddenly become ill. During class, please do not chat with your neighbour(s)
unless directed toward small group discussion by the instructor or TA; doing so is very
distracting for other students. No cell phones in class, please. If you use a computer to take
notes, you must shut down all other applications (including games and social media
platforms) during class; otherwise, you will be requested to leave your computer outside the
classroom. If undue problems arise, Dr. Gough reserves the right to make this a computerfree
class. You may think that you are absolutely capable of multitasking during class, but
studies show that doing so can be very distracting for those around you and inhibits not only
your own learning but theirs; see, for example:
Evaluations: Students will be asked to complete evaluations at the end of the course.