Shakespeare's Comedies

Humanities Seminars Course

Shakespeare's Comedies

Professor Emeritus Peter Medine Department of English
Past Course
THURSDAYS 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. January 26 - April 6, 2017. No class on March 16.
Dorothy Rubel Room



This seminar will concentrate on eight of Shakespeare's comedies, among them Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, and The Tempest. The approach will assume that comedy is a genre distinguished not by light-hearted humor or triviality but by structure of plot. The action moves from conflict and separation to resolution and union, and the plays typically end in betrothal or marriage. But whatever its romance, Shakespeare's comedy is serious and psychologically realistic. The plays explore the hazards of human relationships and the perils of commitment. Ultimately it is the comic heroine's deep awareness of herself and the world that make possible the realization of the romantic ideal—if only within the confines of the play. Throughout the seminar analysis of the texts of the plays will be supplemented with video clips of their productions. 


Required Reading: 

Shakespeare, William.  As You Like It.  Edited by Frances E. Dolan, Penguin Books, 2000.  ISBN: 978-0140714715.

---. Cymbeline. Edited by Peter Holland, Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN: 978-0140714722.

--- . Measure for Measure. Edited by Jonathan Crewe, Stephen Orgel, and A. R. Braunmuller, Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN: 978-0140714791.

--- . The Merchant of Venice. Edited by A. R. Braunmuller, Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN: 978-0140714623.

--- . A Midsummer Night's Dream. Edited by Russ McDonald, Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN: 978-0140714555.

--- . Richard III. Edited by Peter Holland and Stephen Orgel, Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN: 978-0140714838.

--- . The Tempest. Edited by Peter Holland, Penguin Books, 1999. ISBN: 978-0140714852.

--- . Twelfth Night. Edited by Jonathan V. Crewe, Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN: 978-0140714890.

--- . The Winter's Tale. Edited by Frances E. Dolan, Penguin Books, 1999. ISBN: 978-0140714883.

PETER E. MEDINE is Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he served in the English Department from 1969 to 2014. He has written, edited, or coedited seven books in Early Modern English studies. His most recent coedited book is Visionary Milton: Essays in Prophecy and Violence (2010). He is the recipient of several Humanities Seminars Superior Teaching Awards and the College of Humanities Award for Outreach Service.


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