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English 226: Shakespeare

Section 01W, Spring 2017

3 Credits / 3 Hours

Tues. and Thurs., 11:00am-12:15pm

Welcome to English 226: Shakespeare.  The course description is as follows:

Understanding Shakespeare: analysis of representative plays with attention to language, structure, and thematic unity.

Apart from the King James Bible, the works of William Shakespeare are the most influential literary texts in the English language.  They have been translated into at least eighty other languages, including Chinese, Bengali, Tagalog, and Uzbek.  For more than four hundred years, Shakespeare has been performed and read all over the globe, while over nine hundred films have been adapted from his plays.

I understand that many students begin college with a hostile relationship to Shakespeare as his language can be difficult to master.  This course aims first to engender an appreciation of his works—Shakespeare wrote for enjoyment above all else—and I hope you will find that he remains as relevant now as he was to Elizabethan and Jacobean England.  In order to foster this appreciation, we will study seven of his plays in depth, focusing on broad thematic concerns across his career in addition to the historical contexts of his plays and his fulfillment of and deviation from generic and poetic norms.  Shakespeare has had a profound effect on my own life and I hope that together we can all become Bardolators.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • Develop a critical appreciation of William Shakespeare

  • Assess Shakespeare and his works in light of dominant historical and cultural trends, generic and theatrical conventions, and poetic devices

  • Hone skills of close reading, literary analysis, and critical argumentation

  • Discover the pleasure of reading these texts

Required Materials

  • There are no required books for this course. However, you will be expected to print out and annotate all assigned readings, which will be posted on Blackboard

Recommended Materials and Resources

  • William Shakespeare, The Norton Shakespeare. ISBN-13: 978-0393934991

  • Shakespeare’s Words:

  • MLA International Bibliography:

  • Google Scholar:

  • Purdue University Online Writing Lab (MLA Style Guide):

  • William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition). ISBN-13: 978-0205309023


 You may bring laptops in order to take notes but no cell phones, headphones, or portable music players.

 Attendance and Punctuality

Attendance is mandatory.  Only three absences and three times arriving late (more than ten minutes) will be excused.  Each additional unexcused absence will result in half a letter grade dropped. (Two lates equal one unexcused absence).  Six unexcused absences will result in a failing grade.  If you know you will be late or absent, please email me.

Policy on Plagiarism

You must do your own work and be sure to cite sources for any ideas, words and phrases, or thought that are not your own and not common knowledge.  Plagiarism often occurs because students do not allow enough time to complete their assignments or because they feel their work will not be good enough.  If you are having trouble finishing an assignment by the due date, please speak with me instead of cheating.  And in this class, if you challenge yourself and make a solid effort, you will be fine: your own work is good enough.  If you turn in work that is not your own, you will fail the assignment and possibly the entire course.  All instances of plagiarism will be reported to the English Department Chair and Office of Student Affairs.  Note that college penalties for this can be as severe as expulsion from the college.  Please use common sense and if you are ever in doubt, ask me first and before your assignment is due.

CUNY defines plagiarism as follows:

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own.  The following are some examples of plagiarism, but by no means is it an exhaustive list:

Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their sourcePresenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the sourceUsing information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the sourceFailing to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignments

Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, and “cutting & pasting” from various sources without proper attribution.


Assignments must be emailed to by 11:59pm on the day on which they are due.  Assignments not handed in at all will be given failing grades.  Talk to me if you are having a serious problem completing the work, and we will work out a plan that is agreeable to us both.  Incomplete or late assignments will lose half a letter grade per day.  This means that if you submit an A paper that is due on Monday on Wednesday, you will receive a B.

Blackboard Discussion: 2.5 points each (10 points total)

Performance: 15 points

Essays: 15 points each (45 points total)

Participation: 30 points

Total: 100 points

Grading Scale: 94-100 = A; 90-93 = A-; 87-89 = B+; 83-86 = B; 80-82 = B-; 77-79 = C+; 73-76 = C

Classroom Participation

This is a discussion-based course, not a lecture-based one.  Participation is very important and includes completing the assigned readings, turning your papers in on time, and being prepared to speak thoughtfully on whatever reading(s) we are discussing for the day.  There will also be no toleration of deliberately racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or ableist language.  I use the word deliberately because we all have gaps in knowledge and experience and part of the purpose of a college education is assisting each other in filling in those gaps.  Therefore, I encourage respectful debate when your peers or I have said something that is hurtful, insensitive, or ignorant.


Blackboard Discussion: Four times during the semester, you will be expected to post on Blackboard a 250-word response to the text under discussion.  This can be a short close reading of a particular passage, an exploration of a theme you find important to the play, or an analysis of a Shakespearean performance you have seen onstage or in a film.  I will regularly send out clips to supplement our understanding of these texts; I encourage you to draw from them in your responses.

Performance: Once during the semester, each of you will be required to recite approximately 20 lines from one of our texts.  You may do this individually or in groups.  As Shakespeare is meant to be heard and seen in addition to being read, this will be crucial to our understanding of the plays’ relationship to performance.  Furthermore, memorization of these lines will allow you to wrestle with the choices Shakespearean actors and directors must make.  The day before your performance, I will ask you to email a rewriting of the scene in modern vernacular.  If you are a non-native English speaker, you may do so in the language with which you are most comfortable.  This is an exercise frequently used by actors to ensure they truly understand the meaning of every word they are speaking.

Essays: Three times this semester, you will be required to write a 1250-word close reading essay on an assigned text.  Details on each assignment, including prompts, will be handed out two weeks prior to each essay’s due date.  You will turn in first and final drafts, but you are welcome to submit multiple drafts for comments before each assignment is due.

Accommodating Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students.  Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services.  For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238, phone number (718) 960-8441.

Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects individuals from discrimination based on sex in any educational program receiving federal financial assistance.  Sexual harassment, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX, and is considered a Civil Rights offense.  Lehman College encourages anyone experiencing harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct to talk to a faculty member, counselor, or staff; confidential resources are available through the Lehman Counseling Center at (718) 960-8761.

Travel and Immigration Bans

If you or your loved ones have a passport from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, CUNY Clear is offering legal help in Arabic, Bangla, English, French, Spanish, Urdu, and many other languages—helpful for our older family members.  They can do workshops at your local masjid, too.  Contact them at or (718) 340-4558.

Classmate Contacts


Phone Number:




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Reading and Assignment Schedule

Thursday, 2/2: Julius Caesar, Acts I and II

Tuesday, 2/7: Julius Caesar, Acts III and IV

Thursday, 2/9: Julius Caesar, Act V

Tuesday, 2/14: Hamlet, Acts I and II

Thursday, 2/16: Hamlet, Act III

Sunday, 2/19: First Essay Draft Due

Tuesday, 2/21: Hamlet, Act IV

Thursday, 2/23: Hamlet, Act V

Sunday, 2/26: First Essay Final Draft Due

Tuesday, 2/28: Measure for Measure, Acts I and II

Thursday, 3/2: Measure for Measure, Act III

Tuesday, 3/7: Measure for Measure, Act IV

Thursday, 3/9: Measure for Measure, Act V

Tuesday, 3/14: Othello, Acts I and II

Thursday, 3/16: Othello, Act III

Sunday, 3/19: Second Essay Draft Due

Tuesday, 3/21: Othello, Act IV

Thursday, 3/23: Othello, Act V

Sunday, 3/26: Second Essay Final Draft Due

Tuesday, 3/28: The Merchant of Venice, Acts I and II

Thursday, 3/30: The Merchant of Venice, Act III

Tuesday, 4/4: The Merchant of Venice, Act IV

Thursday, 4/6: The Merchant of Venice, Act V

Tuesday, 4/2: The Winter’s Tale, Acts I and II

Thursday, 4/27: The Winter’s Tale, Act III

Tuesday, 5/2: The Winter’s Tale, Act IV

Thursday, 5/4: The Winter’s Tale, Act V

Sunday, 5/7: Third Essay Draft Due

Tuesday, 5/9: Class Choice

Thursday, 5/11: Class Choice (cont’d)

Sunday, 5/14: Third Essay Final Draft Due

Tuesday, 5/16: Class Choice (cont’d)

Thursday, 5/18: Class Choice (cont’d)