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ENGL401: Shakespeare

Unit 2: Comedies   In its Elizabethan usage, a “comedy” is a play that ends happily, typically moving from a situation of mistaken identities and humorous mix-ups to reconciliation and marriage.  In this unit, we will examine and identify these and other Shakespearean comedic conventions while conducting close readings of two of Shakespeare’s comedies, "Twelfth Night" and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 28 hours to complete. 

☐    Subunit 2.1: 10 hours

☐    Subunit 2.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.1.2: 6 hours

☐    Subunit 2.1.3: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.1.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 8 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2.1: 7 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 2.3: 10 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3.1: 7 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3.3: 1 hour

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Define “Shakespearean comedy” and provide an account of its origins in Greek theater.
  • List the characteristics of Shakespearean comedy.
  • Define and list the Shakespearean “Problem Plays.”
  • Provide critical analyses (in terms of dominant themes and ideas) of Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends WellTwelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

2.1 Overview of Shakespearean Comedy   2.1.1 Origins of Comedy in Classic Theater   - Reading: Utah State University: Mark Damen’s Classical Drama and Society: “Ancient Greek Comedy,” “Roman Comedy I,” and “Roman Comedy II” Link: Utah State University: Mark Damen’s Classical Drama and Society: “Ancient Greek Comedy,” (PDF) “Roman Comedy I,” (PDF) and “Roman Comedy II” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read these pages, which are intended to provide you with a history of the comedic form, with which Shakespeare would have been familiar.
 
Terms of Use: These resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. They are attributed to Mark Damen and the original versions can be found here.

2.1.2 “All’s Well that Ends Well:” The Marriage Plot in Shakespeare’s Comedies   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's version of William Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well and The Folger Shakespeare Library’s Introduction to the Role of Marriage in All’s Well that Ends Well Links:  The Saylor Foundation's version of William Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well (PDF) and The Folger Shakespeare Library’s Introduction to the Role of Marriage in All’s Well that Ends Well (HTML)
 
Also available in:
HTML (play)
ePub format on Google Books
eText format on the Kindle
 
Instructions:  Please read  William Shakespeare’s play as well as the Folger Shakespeare Library’s brief introduction focusing on the importance of the marriage plot in Shakespeare’s play.  
   
About the links: The Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials.  
 
Terms of Use:  Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.1.3 Characteristics of Shakespearean Comedies   - Reading: California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Shakespeare’s Plays: Comedy” Link:  California Polytechnic State University: Dr. Debora B. Schwartz’s “Shakespeare’s Plays: Comedy” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please scroll down and read the entirety of Dr. Schwartz’s introduction to the characteristics of Shakespearean comedy.  What would you include in a list of the most characteristic aspects of Shakespearean comedy?  
   
About the link:  Dr. Schwartz has made this webpage available through her departmental website at California Polytechnic State University.  
 
Terms of Use:  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.1.4 Blending of Humor and Tragedy in the “Problem Plays”   - Reading: The College of Holy Cross: The Internet Shakespeare Project’s version of Daniel Colvin’s “Shakespeare’s Problem Plays” Link:  The College of Holy Cross:  The Internet Shakespeare Project’s version of Daniel Colvin’s “Shakespeare’s Problem Plays” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please scroll down and read the entirety of the Internet Shakespeare Project’s version of Daniel Colvin’s introduction to the fusion of comedy and tragedy in “Shakespeare’s Problem Plays.”  What is the definition of a Shakespearean “Problem Play”?  
   
About the link:  The Internet Shakespeare Project at the College of Holy Cross has made this essay available online.  
 
Terms of Use:  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.2 Twelfth Night   2.2.1 The Carnivalesque: Disguise, Clowning, and Identity in Twelfth Night   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's version of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Associated Content: “Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night – A Comedy of Carnivalesque Proportions” Links: The Saylor Foundation's version of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (PDF) and Associated Content:  “Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night – A Comedy of Carnivalesque Proportions” (HTML)

 Also available in:  
 [HTML](http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1527/pg1527.html) (play)  
    
 Instructions:  Please read William Shakespeare’s *Twelfth Night*.
 Then scroll down and read all five pages of Associated Content’s
essay on this play by clicking through the page links on the webpage
through the page-scrolling tool.   If you can find a filmic
adaptation of this play at a movie store or online, please view
it.  
      
 Terms of Use:  Please respect the copyrights and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

2.2.2 Sexuality in Twelfth Night   - Lecture: YouTube: Great Writers Inspire: Emma Smith’s “Twelfth Night” Link: YouTube: Great Writers Inspire: Emma Smith’s “Twelfth Night” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Listen to this lecture in which she discusses Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Note, this is an audio clip.
 
Listening to this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales. It is attributed to Emma Smith and the original version can be found here.

2.3 Midsummer Night’s Dream   2.3.1 Introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Folger Shakespeare Library’s Introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream Links: The Saylor Foundation's version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (PDF), The Folger Shakespeare Library’s Introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (HTML)
 
Also available in:
HTML (play)
ePub format on Google Books
eText format on the Kindle (Free)
 
Instructions:  Please read Shakespeare’s play as well as the Folger Shakespeare Library’s introduction to the play.  If you can find a filmic adaptation of this play at a movie store or online, please view it.   
   
Terms of Use:  Please respect the copyrights and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.3.2 Shakespeare’s Sources for A Midsummer Night’s Dream   - Reading: Joseph Lockett’s “Midsummer Madness, Dangerous Dreams: Shakespeare’s Sources for A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Link: Joseph Lockett’s “Midsummer Madness, Dangerous Dreams: Shakespeare’s Sources for A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please scroll down and read the entirety of this article detailing Shakespeare’s sources for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Why would Shakespeare wish to invent the magical land he does in this play?  
   
About the link:  Mr. Lockett has made this essay, as well as other essays on Shakespeare, literature, and the stage, available online via http://www.prismnet.com/~jlockett/.
 
Terms of Use:  Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

2.3.3 Matters of Language and A Midsummer Night’s Dream   - Reading: YouTube: Great Writers Inspire: Emma Smith’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” Link: YouTube: Great Writers Inspire: Emma Smith’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Listen to this lecture in which she discusses Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Note, this is an audio clip.
 
Listening to this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales. It is attributed to Emma Smith and the original version can be found here.