Dr. Jim Ford                                                                                Shakespeare

jford@rsu.edu                                                                              ENGL 4223R

Office: Baird Hall 101A                                                              Spring 2012           

Office Phone: (918) 343-7749                                                     ONLINE

Office Hours: 9-11 M; 11-noon W;                                             No prerequisites.

1-2 TR; 9-noon F; and by appointment.                                      







Analysis of a selection of Shakespeare’s tragedies, comedies, histories, sonnets, and other lyric poetry. Selected criticism, 1600 to the present. Historical background and Shakespeare’s theater (RSU Bulletin 2011-12, p. 172).



Our primary objective is to read, discuss, and enjoy as many of Shakespeare's plays and poems as possible. By the end of the course, every student should be able to:

1. Articulate the essential features of each genre (sonnet, comedy, tragedy, history).

2. Analyze Shakespeare's works in terms of character, scene, passage, and genre.

3. Formulate an individual interpretation of a particular play.

4. Evaluate various interpretations of Shakespeare's work.



Shakespeare, Complete Pelican Shakespeare. Penguin 2002.

Available at the RSU Bookstore in Claremore. Please have the book before the class begins.



This course will emphasize discussion and writing. Each week we will be reading a play (or poems) by Shakespeare. This is an upper-division seminar: the point of this course is to read Shakespeare closely and discuss him together. Always do your own reading, thinking, and writing. This course does not involve research (unless otherwise noted), and your work should be based on your reading and reflecting on Shakespeare's works. When a play is listed for a particular week, that means the play should be read by the beginning of that week (when two weeks are given, specific readings will be detailed online).

There will be three critical essays (1000 words long), a project, and a final exam. Each essay is worth 10% of your final grade. All papers must be typed and double-spaced. Unexcused late work will be penalized 20% per day. All essays are due by 6 p.m. on the respective due date, as listed in the course schedule below. Further details on the nature of these assignments will be posted online.



"If you read this, O Caesar, thou mayest live;

If not, the fates with traitors do contrive"

-Artemidorus, Julius Caesar (2.2).


            Every student will complete three critical essays. One will be a character analysis, a detailed analysis of a particular character's motivation, nature, and key words and actions. One will be a scene analysis, a detailed analysis of a particular scene. One will be a review of a particular play's performance or film adaptation. These essays may be submitted in whatever order you choose (you may do the character analysis first, the scene analysis first, or the film review first), but you must submit an essay by each deadline and you must do each of the three essays. Finally, use the plays that we read as the basis for your essays.



Every student will be complete a project during the semester and present that project to the class the final week of the semester. This project is 20% of your grade, and the presentation another 5% of your grade. For this project, you have three basic options. Option one is to plan a production of a Shakespearean play (one that we read), including such topics as staging, directing, casting, costuming, editing, etc. Option two is to compare two key characters (from two different plays that we have studied). This is a much fuller treatment of the character analysis paper that everyone will complete. Option three is perform a short scene of your choosing from one of the plays that we studied. This could be a long monologue or a scene with another performer (or performers). In this case your paper will detail your interpretation of that scene and your motivation in performing it. You may also devise another project of your own choosing, but all choices must be approved by the professor. Your project will include a 5-6 page essay describing your project, why you chose it, and what you learned. Your presentation should be a 5-7 minute summary of the project (in the case of option three your performance will be your presentation). Feel free to include any photographs, artwork, or music with your project- be creative. Further information on these projects will be given in class.



Every student’s final grade will be earned via the following:

Papers                                     30% (each paper=10%)

Exam                                       20%

Participation                            25%

Project                                     20%

Presentation                             5%

            All student work will be judged according to the following academic criteria:



            This course requires regular and constant participation. You must participate fully in each week's lesson, just as if your attendance were required at a weekly class meeting. The only difference is that our participation is asynchronous, which is to say at different times. You are free to post as convenient, provided that you do so before the posted deadline each week (usually Saturday at 6 p.m.).


"To be thus is nothing, But to be safely thus" -Macbeth, Macbeth (3.1).


GRADING SCALE                  90-100 A              

                                                   80-89 B 

                                                   70-79 C 

                                                   60-69 D



Students are expected to follow university policies as put forth in the institution’s Student Code of Responsibilities and Conduct. In accordance with Title 12 of The Student Code (page 11), instances of alleged academic misconduct will follow the policies and procedures as described in Title 12. As a general rule, Faculty at Rogers State University have the responsibility of enforcing the academic code. Therefore, if academic misconduct is suspected I will submit a letter of alleged academic misconduct to the Office of Student Affairs.

Note especially RSU’s official plagiarism statement:Plagiarism is the representation of the words or ideas of another as one’s own, including: direct quotation without both attribution and indication that the material is being directly quoted, e.g. quotation marks; paraphrase without attribution; paraphrase with or without attribution where the wording of the original remains substantially intact and is represented as the author’s own; expression in one’s own words, but without attribution, of ideas, arguments, lines of reasoning, facts, processes, or other products of the intellect where such material is learned from the work of another and is not part of the general fund of common knowledge.” Deliberate plagiarism and/or other forms of cheating are grounds for failure in the course as a whole.



In order to maintain an effective learning environment, students are expected to fully comply with The Student Code. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of each student to read and become familiar with the policies of The Student Code.



Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services.  Any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of academic accommodation must inform the professor of such need during or immediately following the first class attended.  Before any educational accommodation can be provided, it is the responsibility of each student to prove eligibility for assistance by registering for services through Student Affairs.



My office hours are listed above. Please feel free to come by, call, etc., during those hours. If that doesn’t work, I would be happy to schedule an appointment at another time. Communication by email is especially welcome (moderation in this, as in all things...).

Finally, realize that it is not unusual for a course like this one to raise challenges to and doubts about some of our most cherished beliefs. It is important that each of us is sensitive to the views of those around us. At the same time, each of us should also be aware that controversial issues, arguments, and positions will be discussed in this course. If something bothers or offends you, let me know and I will do what I can.


“Why, thou owest God a death" -Prince Hal, Henry IV Part One (5.1).

Course Schedule




Week One: Jan 9         Introduction and Sonnets


Week Two: Jan 16      Shakespeare's Comedies; A Midsummer-Night's Dream


Week Three: Jan 23    Second Comedy (Reader's Choice)    


Week Four: Jan 30      Shakespeare's Histories; Richard II


Week Five: Feb 6        Henry IV, Part One                First Essay Due Friday, Feb. 10


Week Six: Feb 13        Henry IV, Part One (continued)


Week Seven: Feb 20   Henry V


Week Eight: Feb 27     Shakespeare's Tragedies; Julius Caesar          


Week Nine: Mar 5       Hamlet                                     Second Essay Due Friday, Mar. 9


Week Ten: Mar 12      Hamlet (continued)


SPRING BREAK: Mar 19-25             NO CLASS—work on projects


Week Eleven: Mar 26 King Lear


Week Twelve: Apr 2  King Lear (continued)             Third Essay Due Friday, Apr. 6


Week Thirteen: Apr 9 Macbeth


Week Fourteen: Apr 16 Shakespeare's Romances; The Tempest


Week Fifteen: Apr 23  The Tempest (continued)


Week Sixteen: Apr 30 Project Presentations; Final Exam


This schedule may be revised as necessary during the course of the semester.



"But this rough magic I here abjure; and, when I have rquir'd Some heavenly music--which even now I do-- To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, deeper than did ever plummet sound I'll drown my book"

-Prospero, The Tempest (5.1).