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LIT 71 — Shakespeare’s Greatest Comedies

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Jan 24—Mar 20
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 26
Unit: 1
Tuition: $505
Instructor(s): Abigail Heald
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 24—Mar 20
9 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 26
1 Unit
Abigail Heald
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Welcome to a world where lovers frolic, clowns jest, cross-dressed women confound, and egomaniacs run amok. They all have a role to play in Shakespeare’s comedies, plays that imagine a realm ruled by the anarchic force of love, a place where transgression and improvisation reign supreme. Yet these comedies aren't just a delightful escape; they're a profound mirror that reflects society's rules and conventions. Shakespeare masterfully crafts narratives that both charm and challenge, and his comedies offer some of the most trenchant social critiques of his career, inviting us to reexamine the conventions that shape identity, love and desire, gender, and class.

Together, we will read four of Shakespeare's greatest comedies: The Merry Wives of Windsor, a feminist portrait of married life; Much Ado About Nothing, a depiction of two of the greatest lovers in the literary canon; Measure for Measure, a dark comedy that critiques the laws, civil and religious, that attempt to control love and desire; and Twelfth Night, arguably Shakespeare’s greatest contribution to the genre. Class sessions will include a combination of lecture and class discussion. We will devote two weeks to each play, giving us time to discuss larger questions while also examining Shakespeare’s language in depth.

No prior experience with Shakespeare is required. This course includes access to stage and film productions of each play. Some productions will be provided by the instructor. Students will have the option to rent the other productions from Amazon or a similar online platform. More details will be provided in class.

Lecturer in Literature, UC Santa Cruz

Abigail Heald teaches courses on Shakespeare, early English literature, and film. She taught for three years in Stanford’s Introduction to the Humanities Program. Heald received a PhD in English from Princeton and is writing a book on the relationship between art and emotion in Shakespeare’s work.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) William Shakespeare , As You Like It, (The Pelican Shakespeare)(see syllabus for details) (ISBN 978-0143130239)
(Required) Wiliam Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, (The Pelican Shakespeare) (ISBN 978-0143128595)
(Required) William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, (The Pelican Shakespeare) (ISBN 978-0143131731)
(Required) William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (The Pelican Shakespeare) (ISBN 978-0143130185)