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LIT 67 — Shakespeare's Tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 9 weeks
Date(s): Jan 18—Mar 15
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 20
Unit: 1
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Abigail Heald
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jan 18—Mar 15
9 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 20
1 Unit
Abigail Heald
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Tragedy is the oldest and most enduring literary form for asking the eternal question: What does it mean to be human? And no one has done tragedy more compellingly than Shakespeare, through stories that still thrill us 400 years later. In this course, we will read his four greatest tragedies—Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear—and examine some of the fundamental questions they raise about the human condition. In reading Macbeth, for example, we will discuss Shakespeare’s depiction of the problem of free will: Are we simply pawns to forces greater than ourselves, or can we determine our own future? While reading Othello, we will consider how Shakespeare created one of the greatest villains in literature to explore the origins of evil actions. And throughout, we will examine the age-old problem at the heart of tragedies: Why, if they depict stories of human suffering, do we love them so much?

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. Students will have access to multiple stage and film productions of each play.

No prior experience with Shakespeare is necessary for the course. All are welcome.

Lecturer in Literature, UC Santa Cruz

Abigail Heald teaches courses on drama and the Renaissance. She taught for three years in Stanford’s Introduction to the Humanities program. Heald received a PhD 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, Macbeth (The Pelican Shakespeare) (ISBN 978-0143128564)
(Required) William Shakespeare, Hamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare) (ISBN 978-0143128540)
(Required) William Shakespeare, Othello (The Pelican Shakespeare) (ISBN 978-0143128618)
(Required) William Shakespeare, King Lear (The Pelican Shakespeare) (ISBN 978-0143128557)