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LIT 32 — Shakespeare: Comedies and Tragedies

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 4—Jun 6
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 17
Units: 2
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Denise Gigante
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Apr 4—Jun 6
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 17
2 Units
Denise Gigante
Shakespeare’s genius inheres in his language and characters. This course is designed to give students a deeper understanding of both through a study of ten plays: Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, and The Winter’s Tale.

The editors of Shakespeare’s First Folio (the first collected volume of the plays, published in 1623) did not recognize the category of “romance.” The contents included only comedies, histories, and tragedies. Later scholars came up with the new category to account for particularly dark and disturbing comedies, and for the kind of tragedy William Hazlitt called “delightful” and “amiable.” But how, we might ask, can a play in which a mad king, whose jealousy causes the death of his son, the imprisonment of his wife for sixteen years, and the loss of a daughter he has never met and whom he has ordered to be killed, qualify as a comedy? And how can a play in which the central character gets her father’s blessing for marriage to the man she loves be called a tragedy? In the end, Shakespeare defies all such categories and what matters is the muse—comic, tragic, farcical, historical—whose motions can be felt in the supremely imaginative literature that emanated from the pen of the bard.

Denise Gigante, Professor of English, Stanford

Denise Gigante has taught a wide range of poetry and English literature at Stanford since 2000. Her books include Taste: A Literary History, Life: Organic Form and Romanticism, The Keats Brothers: The Life of John and George, and two anthologies: The Great Age of the English Essay and Gusto: Essential Writings in Nineteenth-Century Gastronomy. She received a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (ISBN 978-0451529565)
(Required) William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night (ISBN 978-0-52731-8)
(Required) William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (ISBN 978-0-451-52686-1)
(Required) William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale (ISBN 978-0-451-52714-1)
(Required) William Shakespeare, As You Like It (ISBN 978-0-451-52678-6)
(Required) William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (ISBN 978-0-451-52847-6)
(Required) William Shakespeare, Coriolanus (ISBN 978-0-451-52843-8)
(Required) William Shakespeare , Pericles/Cymbeline/The Two Noble Kinsmen (ISBN 978-0451530356)