Shakespeare’s Comedies

English 3923

M-W-F  12:30 – 1:20


Dr. Duke Pesta                                                                                           

107B Morrill Hall                                                                                        

Office Hours: TBA

Office Phone: 744-8949

Home Phone: 533-2896


Teaching Assistant


John Richard Stevens                                                                             

408 Morrill Hall                                                                                           

Office Phone: 744-2079                                                                           

Office Hours: M & W 11:15 – 12:15,                                                     

                          F 2:45 – 3:45                                                                    

[email protected]                                                           


Course Objectives


Besides developing your critical skills as a thinker, reader, and writer of expository prose, this course will provide you the opportunity to study the plays and poems of Shakespeare in a sustained and detailed manner. First and foremost, Shakespeare is enjoyable, and this course will emphasize those aspects of Shakespeare's work that have endeared him to readers and audiences of all classes and educational backgrounds. But the study of Shakespeare in an advanced English course is also a very serious endeavor, for a thorough understanding of Shakespeare and his world is a necessary attainment for anyone who aspires to fulfill the mission of liberal education. Shakespeare remains an enduring influence in our society, and his plays and poems are woven into the very fabric of our collective culture. Thus, you will b expected to read Shakespeare's plays carefully, think about them intensively, write about them critically, and hopefully, respond to them passionately.


Required Texts


The Complete Works of Shakespeare, by Shakespeare (Bevington, Editor).

The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, Second Edition (McDonald, Editor).




35% Midterm Exam                                                                        10% Small Group Exam 1

35% Final Exam                                                                              10% Small Group Exam 2

10% Quizzes


Grading Scale


100-90A; 89-80 B; 79-70 C; 69-60 D; 59-0 F.




You need to be here for every class. Attendance will be taken each day in our large Monday and Friday lecture sessions, and you will be receive 5 points for each lecture you attend. At the end of the semester, I will drop 5 points from the attendance section of your overall quiz grade. On Wednesdays, you will spend the first few minutes of class taking a brief, written quiz over that day's assigned reading and the readings and lectures from the previous week. Each quiz will count for 10 points. The written quizzes will be straightforward and content oriented, designed to verify that you are reading on schedule. At the end of the semester, I will also drop your lowest written quiz grade. Missed quizzes and quizzes missed due to tardiness may not be made up under any circumstances. Your overall percentage of quiz/attendance points will count for 10% of your final grade. More than two absences/missed quizzes will seriously compromise your chance to do well in this course.


Disability Policy


If you have a disability or need special accommodation of any nature whatsoever, I will work with you and the Office of Disabled Student Services (315 Student Union) to provide reasonable assistance to ensure a fair opportunity to perform in this class. Please advise me of such disability and the desired accommodation as soon as possible after the commencement of the semester.






W/14      Read A Midsummer Night's Dream Acts 1 and 2.


W/21      Read A Midsummer Night's Dream Acts 3 and 4.


W28       Discussion Group Meeting 1: Read A Comedy of Errors Act 1.  Read also the section “To

                What Ends are All These Words” in Chapter 2 of the Bedford Companion (pages 36-42).





W/4        Discussion Group Meeting 2: Read A Comedy of Errors Act 2.  Read also the section

   “Theater a la Mode” in Chapter 3 of the Bedford Companion (pages 81-85).


W/11      Discussion Group Meeting 3: Read A Comedy of Errors Act 3.  Read also the section

   “Town and Country Life in Shakespeare’s England” in Chapter 7 of the Bedford Companion

   (pages 219 thru 224 and 231 thru 233).


W/18      Discussion Group Meeting 4: Read A Comedy of Errors Act 4.  Read also the section

   “Performances, Playhouses, and Players in Chapter 4 of the Bedford Companion

   (pages 109 thru 114).


 W/25      Discussion Group Meeting 5: Read A Comedy of Errors Act 5. 





W/3        Discussion Group Meeting 6: Essay Exam over A Comedy of Errors. 


W/10      Discussion Group Meeting 7: Midterm Exam


W/17      Spring Break—No Class


W/24      Discussion Group Meeting 8: Read The Winter's Tale Act 1.



W/3l       Discussion Group Meeting 9: Read The Winter's Tale Act 2.





W/7       Discussion Group Meeting 10: Read The Winter's Tale Act 3.


W/l4      Discussion Group Meeting 11: Read The Winter's Tale Act 4.


W/2l      Discussion Group Meeting 12: Read The Winter's Tale Act 5.


W/28     Discussion Group Meeting 13: Essay Exam over The Winter's Tale.