Course Description

ENGL3306 Shakespeare: The Major Works

Prof. Jamie Ferguson, spring 2013


“He was not of an age, but for all time!” (Ben Jonson, 1623)

“Every age creates its own Shakespeare.” (Marjorie Garber, 2004)


This is an introduction to the dramatic works of William Shakespeare, through reading of six of the major plays: I Henry IV, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest. We shall approach these plays as examples of Shakespeare’s work in four genres: tragedy, comedy, history, and romance; we shall also follow Shakespeare’s thematic concerns and artistic development across these generic boundaries. We shall use various critical categories to discuss and write about the plays: source-study, character-study, imagery and symbolism, aesthetics, performance and textual history. While most of our attention will go to close reading of our six texts, we shall also study these plays in their social, political, and religious contexts and review some of the relevant criticism associated with each play.