English 257, Representative Shakespeare

Fall 2008


Meeting Times: M W 3:00 - 4:15

Classroom: HHH 206

Contacting Me



 Office Hours



 Marty Wood
HHH 729
2 - 3 M W 

OL 1130  

by appt


Students can leave voicemail messages at these phone numbers; however, email is usually the best way to reach me.



(available at the bookstore)

Sections in this document:


Course Method and Organization


Other Policies and Procedures

You will need to consult the course calendar (available in the "Content" tab on D2L) for a complete schedule of events, deadlines, and due dates


Course Goals:

In English 257 we will aim primarily at introducing you to the pleasures and challenges available to the alert reader of Shakespeare's plays. We will learn the plots, of course, but the wealth you gain in learning Shakespeare has only somewhat to do with the specific stories. Anyone can summarize a good story in a paragraph or two. Instead, Shakespeare's genius will be obvious to you once you sense his understanding of the way language can work, his unfailing accuracy in showing real human behavior, and his deep love of the theater and the way that drama can both teach and move audiences.

In order to reach that point, we will read seven of Shakespeare's plays, and we will read them several times each.

Course Requirements:

Attendance and active participation should be everyone's goal. This means reading every assignment multiple times and arriving to class fully prepared. In addition, everyone must complete a combination of papers, exams, and so on until reaching the minimum threshold described below.

Possible Assignments: in this course students may choose among several assignments: quizzes, papers, exams, and (in cooperation with other students) a live presentation and analysis of a brief scene from one of our plays. Each student chooses a unique combination of assignments.

Except for three of our short reading quizzes and the poetry test, no assignment is required. In other words, you will choose which assignments you’ll complete.  All assignments are weighted according the “x-values” shown below.  The minimum total x-value for full credit this semester is 21x.  You may complete any combination of assignments you choose, and you may submit as many or as few as you like; if you fall short of 21x, you’ll receive a zero for each x below 21.  There is no maximum x.  Mathematically speaking, the more assignments you submit, the less each one weighs in your final grade; however, the value of any single assignment will always remain the same relative to any other single assignment – for example, the Term Paper will always weigh 10 times as heavily as any Quiz.  In any event, you will choose which assignments to do, and at the end of the course will receive a final grade that reflects the quality of the work you’re done on the assignments you’ve chosen to do.  Please note that almost all assignments have a specific deadline or due date; you may not complete or submit anything after its deadline or due date.  Choosing not to submit an assignment, or forgetting to submit it, or missing the deadline, or submitting a corrupted or non-functioning version, or missing class on the day an exam or quiz is given, all have the same effect: that omission will simply not be counted among your chosen assignments, and will not factor into your grade.  Make-up for illnesses is simple: forget about the lost opportunity, and wait for the next deadline.  Finally, once you submit an assignment, it will count toward your final grade – you may not drop an assignment after I assign it a grade.

Obviously, it is possible for a student to get into trouble by doing nothing until the last week of class, in which case that student will have to take an exam and write a major paper, or something like that, which will probably result in disaster.  But it means that there is almost always a way, technically, to make up for a certain amount of lost time.

Assignment X-Values:  

Each of these kinds of assignment is described in the "Content" area of the class D2L site. I'd like to say an extra word or two about the Scene presentation. Students have the option of forming a small group for the purpose of "presenting" a scene from a Shakespeare play to the class. This presentation is not the same as either giving a performance or teaching the play, but something in between. Students in each group should choose a play, read and study it, and identify its major themes, conflicts, problems, or significant issues of some related kind. Then they should come to class on a designated day (to be named later) fully prepared to summarize the plot and characters of the play, highlight the important issues, and then focus on the one central issue they've identified. As part of the presentation, the group should stage a brief performance of one scene or a part of one scene, preferably a performance that involves all group members. With any luck, the performance will help illustrate the group presentation's main-issue focus. Students considering this option should let me know very early in the semester.



Although I do not include a specific penalty for non-attendance, it should be obvious by now that the student who misses classes will not be able to keep up with the work of the course. In accordance with UW - Eau Claire policy, I will take attendance each day. Failure to attend will be its own penalty, both in terms of the absentee's lost opportunities at felicity and at becoming more fully educated.

Click here to return to the Table of Contents

Course Method and Organization

How We Will Proceed

In this course we will read seven popular plays (and a few sonnets) by William Shakespeare. Our primary focus at first will be his stories, his characters, and his language. During this early phase, students will also learn to recognize the difference between good and bad blank verse, to use footnotes to unravel textual complications, and to use a companion handbook to help understand the context in which Shakespeare wrote and the problems faced by interpreters ever since. Later, as they become more practiced readers of Shakespeare, students will also learn to use a few important research tools to help them consider more intricate problems and challenges in the plays.

Students should read each play in its entirety before we begin to discuss it in class. Then, before the subsequent class meetings on the same play, they will re-read several sections multiple times. Re-reading Shakespeare is the only way to learn his work, and we'll be doing lots of it.

Click here to return to the Table of Contents


A Word about Electronic Course Materials

Because we will be occasional users of the Internet and of the courseware found on D2L, many essentail course materials are provided without cost to you. However, there are a couple of things to consider. First, you will need to set aside regular times when you will use the UW - Eau Claire network to access the courseware, your own data storage, and the rest of the Internet (including McIntyre Library resources). You can access this network from labs on campus or from your home town, but you will have a more satisfactory experience if you use the fastest connection available to you (usually that means the ones in the labs). Avoid dial-up if possible.

For this course you will also need to become a wise user of data storage. It is always your responsibility to have backup copies of electronic files for the work you produce at UW - Eau Claire. Files kept on your remote server are automatically backed up every night, but that's only helpful if your remote server always has your most recent version of each file. This means that if you use removable media, you alone are responsible for making backup copies or for copying your files to the remote server. Not all media are equally reliable. Computer crashes and storage media failures are not an adequate excuse for late or missing work. As you've seen in the "grading" discussion, I do not accept late work.

Click here to return to the Table of Contents

Other Course Policies and Procedures

Click here to return to the Table of Contents

Note: For additional general information about this or any other English course, see Descriptions from UWEC Course Catalogue.

Marty Wood
Professor of English

UW-Eau Claire Home

Last Updated: 9/02/2008