19 January 2012

Shakespeare & Shakespeare: For Actor and Scholar

ENG 341/THR 305/IDS 301d Spring, 2012

Fashioning the Self
Shakespeare and Performance

(subject to further revision)


David Hlavsa Office Hours:
Office: Old Main, rm. 343 Monday & Wednesday, noon-3:00 pm
dhlavsa@stmartin.edu And by appointment

Stephen Mead Office Hours:
Office: Old Main, rm. 312b Tuesday & Thursday, 9:30-11:00
smead@stmartin.edu And by appointment


Many of Shakespeare's most engaging characters share with actors the compelling desire to fashion and re-fashion themselves. In seeking to do so, they set out to define the nature of existence, of the world around them.

In this special combined section of ENG 341, THR 305 and IDS 301, we will study Shakespeare both as a literary and a performance text. Over the course of the semester, we wish to examine the relationship between the contemporary Shakespearean actor's transformative process and the ontological inquiry common to the character s/he is attempting to inhabit, embody or impersonate.

Approximately half our time and energy will be spent on studying a relatively few plays with literary analysis, interpretation, and rhetorical explorations. The other half will be devoted to attempting to come to terms with the plays and sonnets as contemporary actors speaking the heightened language of Elizabethan verse.

Our purpose is to enrich your experience of Shakespeare by working with these plays both abstractly and concretely, contemplatively and actively, literarily and dramatically.


The Riverside Shakespeare. Evans & Tobin, Eds. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Also known as The Wadsworth Shakespeare, Second Edition


1/17 & 1/19 Snow days.

1/24 Introduction.
1/26 Introduction.

1/31 Have read: Macbeth.*
2/2 Macbeth.

2/7 Macbeth. Macbeth scenes: have completed two outside rehearsals.
2/9 Have read: Midsummer.*

2/14 Midsummer. Macbeth scenes: four outside rehearsals; have scene blocked; turn in rough draft of written work.
2/16 Midsummer.

2/21 Have read: Measure for Measure.* Macbeth scenes: six outside rehearsals.
2/23 Measure for Measure.

2/28 Measure for Measure. Macbeth scenes: eight outside rehearsals.
3/1 Edit session/dress rehearsals.

3/6 Paper #1 due. Perform Macbeth scenes and turn in final draft of written work.
3/8 Have read: Hamlet.* Macbeth scenes: turn in self-evaluation.

3/13 Hamlet.
3/15 Hamlet. Measure scenes: two outside rehearsals.

3/27 Have read: Richard II.*
3/29 Richard II. Measure scenes: four outside rehearsals; have scene blocked; turn in rough draft of written work.

4/3 Richard II.
4/5 Have read: I Henry IV.* Measure scenes: six outside rehearsals.

4/10 I Henry IV.
4/12 Edit session/dress rehearsals. Measure scenes: eight outside rehearsals.

4/17 Paper #2 due. Perform Measure scenes and turn in final draft of written work.
4/19 I Henry IV. Measure scenes: turn in self-evaluation.

4/24 Have read: Coriolanus.*
4/26 Coriolanus.

5/1 Coriolanus.
5/3 Edit session.
5/8 Finals week – no class. Final paper due.

*Indicates a brief, factual quiz at the beginning of class. These quizzes are designed both to help you keep up with the reading and to help you gauge how carefully you are reading.


Students enrolled in English 341 will write two papers: one of the short papers due on March 6 and April 17, and the longer final paper, due May 8. You will also perform one scene – either from Macbeth (on March 6) or from Measure for Measure (on April 17).

Students enrolled in Theatre 305 will perform both scenes: from Macbeth on March 6 AND from Measure for Measure on April 17. You will also write the longer final paper, due May 8.

Students enrolled in IDS 301 may choose to follow the requirements for ENG 341 (two papers, one performance) or THR 305 (two performances, one paper).


All papers should be interpretive in nature, arguing a strong, provocative thesis and supporting that argument with close, creative reading of the texts and a clear, logical theoretical basis. As our holdings in Shakespeariana are relatively strong at Saint Martin's, you are encouraged to support and/or locate your argument by using secondary sources. In both papers, you are free to write upon any topic within these seven plays. (For the first paper, alternatively, you may submit an in-depth interpretation of one of the sonnets not covered in class.) If you want ideas or advice, please see one of the instructors well before the due date. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late papers will not be accepted. Professor Mead will be the sole grader of the first two papers. Professors Hlavsa and Mead will grade the final paper jointly.


When you begin the project, you’ll be assigned a rehearsal group and a short two-person scene from Measure for Measure or Macbeth. Until you present the scene in class, you and your group will arrange to meet at least twice a week outside of class to rehearse. You will also be asked to prepare a brief written analysis of the scene.

After each scene is performed, you'll receive a written evaluation of your work (Hlavsa will be sole grader). Your grade on the project will be based not only on your performance but on the extent of your preparation and quality of your written analysis.


Active and informed participation is essential for your success and that of your colleagues. Therefore, you are expected to prepare for, attend and participate in every class. Obviously there are unforeseeable circumstances that might prevent your perfect attendance (poorly-gapped spark plugs, earthquakes, typhus, etc.). Hence, you have three free absences (excluding edit sessions & performances). Each absence in excess of three days will lower your final grade by one-third of a letter (e.g., B to B-). Tardiness will be counted as an absence. You are responsible for finding out what happened in class in your absence and with keeping up with any work assigned.


Paper or Scene #1* 25%
Paper or Scene #2* 25%
Final paper* 30%
Quizzes 10%
Class participation 10%

*IMPORTANT: In order to pass the course, you must complete all three projects.


If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have medical and/or safety concerns to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please let me know as soon as possible.


We try to encourage people to work together, collaborate on projects and generally help each other to complete written and other assignments. We hope you will seek out each other's assistance. At the same time, when you hand in written work with your name on it, you are expected to credit your sources for quotations or ideas. All influences of thought or language should be acknowledged in your written work. Representing the words and/or ideas of others as your own amounts to academic dishonesty. Depending on the seriousness and extent of the problem, academic dishonesty may result in anything from failure of an assignment to failure of the course and/or further disciplinary action in accordance with the regulations in the college catalogue.

Papers in David & Stephen’s Shakespeare Class
Spring 2012
Short Paper: Choose a scene from any play we have read so far. Read this scene at least ten times, noting verbal themes, word choices that characterize the speaker or underline a recurrent issue, changes in a character’s understanding, and rhythms of both speech and scene. Consider how this scene contributes to or problematizes what you take to be the play’s overall assertion. Now, draft an argument, based on your close reading, of how the scene “fits” (well or poorly) into its play. Write at least two more drafts of this argument; edit it; polish it, and hand in a folder with at least two earlier drafts and the final draft. The point here is that you want to present to your reader the arc of process in the paper’s coming into being. Revisions are not “cleaning up” drafts, but re- “visioning” the ideas: a good paper changes its thesis at least once during the writing process.
Secondary sources are not required for this paper, but you may want to use them to support your argument and to prepare yourself better for the final, research paper.
Tools necessary:
Detailed answer to the question: “What do I think the play’s overarching statement or argument is?”
Understanding and application of inquiry into word choice, sound effects, line breaks, imagery, tone, diction, rhythm, meter, stress, front and back vowels, hard and soft consonants, repetition, word & term, phoneme& morpheme, rhetorical devices.
Introductory Paragraph Essentials: Clear, provocative thesis statement (capable of being put into one sentence, but not required to be iterated that way); explicit methodology (“I will make my argument in the following way” and “this is how the way I will make my argument is a good way”); acknowledgement of potent counterarguments and/or the larger critical conversation.
Body Paragraph Essentials: Topic sentences that introduce an idea (as opposed to state a fact) that the paragraph unfolds and makes relevant to the paper’s thesis by use of details, examples, and explanation. Most strong paragraphs analyze brief citations from the text with close reading, reference to other parts of the text, reference to secondary sources, and sometimes references to other primary sources.
Conclusion: Usually in one paragraph for papers of this length. Considers what has been achieved in the paper and what remains to be explored on the topic. Sometimes looks toward larger issues and contexts.
Please see my blog, http://stephenxmead.blogspot.com/ for policies, edit sheets, handouts, and other useful things. Be sure to check out and use the link to the Purdue Writing Center (OWL).
Paper length: 8 pages, exclusive of notes, works cited. Do not make a title page.
Writing is re-writing and re-re-writing and revising and editing and polishing.

Writing = first draft
Re-writing = all subsequent drafts
Revising = seeing the paper in a new way (modifying thesis, changing
methodology, re-assessing sources, etc.)
Editing = clarifying language and ideas, re-shaping paragraphs, re-ordering sequence of ideas, eliminating repetitions or unnecessary
Polishing = checking spelling, grammar, usage, punctuation, correctness of paper format (margins, indentions, Notes Page, Works
Cited page, etc.)
Term Paper: 15 pages! This is a term paper, so named because it should reflect a whole term’s worth of cogitation, maturation, vision, revision, research, re-research, discovery, blood, sweat, tears, eyestrain, backache, and misplaced anger. So, start thinking about it and talking with your professors about this project as soon as possible. You have several choices here:
A] Explain how you would stage what you take to be a key scene in one of the plays. Ideally, you should argue that this scene has not yet been done quite right, and your hypothetical production would rectify this oversight. In describing your plans for the scene, you might mention such theatrical elements as casting (you may use any actor at any age, living or dead), setting, blocking, costuming, lighting, props, etc. Such a paper would have to review notable previous documented performances—analyzing the interpretation of the scene inherent in its direction; acknowledge notable critical treatments of the scene (i. e., secondary sources, critics); and explain how your direction of this scene is superior to those which have preceded. Your thesis on the play and its effect on the scene must be central to your paper.
B] Character study. How does one character (does NOT have to be a major character) change in the course of the play? How can this change reflect, problematize, complicate, enrich, or otherwise affect (not talking about plot here) the process of the play? How would you direct an actor in a production of the play in a way that would change the play’s meaning or emphasis from its conventional ones to your special vision? How might your designers (set, lights, costumes, etc.) help to create the intended “arc” of the character? This paper too would require a good deal of research into both critical (scholarly) and performance sources. A strong paper would give the reader a “new” character under your direction.
C] Imagine three play spaces: Elizabethan London’s Globe, the nineteenth-century proscenium stage, and the “black box.” Walk the reader through the production of a scene in each of these spaces. What is lost and gained along the way? Which is “best” for what? This paper will call upon critical sources, performance sources, and stage history (including why particular stages were built the way they were).
Tools necessary: everything listed under “short paper,” plus seven pages of your text, ten scholarly sources from peer-reviewed publications (not reviews, googles, wikis, textbooks, blogs, pods, tweets, mags—just work with a librarian, ferpete’s sake).

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