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ENG 361 : Shakespeare: Suggested Topics

Library Research Guide

Topics Suggested by the Professor:

Plays are chosen from:

  • History: Richard II, Richard III, Henry V

  • Comedy: Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Midsummer Night’s Dream

  • Tragedy: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, Lear

    • Mixed: Measure for Measure, The Tempest

Sample topics:

  1. Discuss Shakespeare’s use of sources, whether historical or dramatic, in one of the plays we are reading this semester.
  2. Is Shakespeare a playwright who also wrote poems? Demonstrate the relationship between the poetic and the dramatic in Shakespeare’s work. (e.g. What is the relationship between Sonnets and Romeo and Juliet or As You Like It? )
  3. The Globe Theatre was opened in the summer of 1599, becoming the main stage for Shakespeare’s plays throughout the latter half of his career. Describe this playhouse and relate its features to one of the plays that we are reading in the second half of the semester. (How did Shakespeare use the physical space to his advantage?)
  4. Compare the Globe Theatre and the Blackfriars Theatre.
  5. Write a historical account of Shakespeare’s company of players, demonstrating significant aspects of the relationship between the patrons, players, and his plays.
  6. Much of the humour in Shakespeare turns on sexual innuendo. Assess Shakespeare’s use of bawdy humour in one of the plays we are reading this semester.
  7. For one of the plays that we are reading this semester, demonstrate how a society’s values are reflected in its production on stage. (Choose 2 or 3 major stage interpret­ations of a play to show how productions reflect the ideas of their time.)
  8. Defend Shakespeare’s characterization of women against the charge of misogyny by providing a detailed analysis of one of the following: Juliet, Rosalind, Desdemona, or Miranda.
  9. Gender in Romeo and Juliet
  10. Gender in As You Like It
  11. Is Shakespeare’s characterization of Othello racist?
  12. Fate/providence in the history plays
  13. Magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  14. Describe the main issues surrounding the editing of Shakespeare’s plays, using one of the plays that we are reading this semester as a ‘case study’.
  15. Discuss the censorship (internal and external) in the production and publication of Shake­speare.
  16. The political power described in Richard III, Henry V, and Othello is more realistic than idealist­ic. Discuss the Realpolitik of two of these plays.
  17. Shakespeare’s appeal to theorists in various academic disciplines is reflected in their frequent references to his work. Consider the benefits to one’s understanding of Shakespeare from the perspective of an academic discipline other than English or Theatre Arts. (e.g. sociology, political science, psychology, religious studies, theology, philosophy, business.)
  18. Choose one of the plays that we are reading this semester and demonstrate its relevance for audiences in the 21st century.
  19. Compare Shakespeare’s view of history (Richard III, Henry V) with 21st-century views of history
  20. How does ‘Global Shakespeare’ reflect major themes of international relations in the 21st cent­ury? Analyze the appropriation of Shakespeare’s plays in different languages, ethnicities, and/or cultures around the world (e.g., the World Shakespeare project in 2012).
  21. Choose one of the plays we’re reading this semester and analyse it for evidence of Shakespeare’s religious commitments.
  22. Witchcraft in Macbeth

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