Course Information

ENG406: Shakespeare I | TF 12:30-1:45

Prof. Cyrus Mulready |

Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:45-2:45 and Wednesdays 12:50-2:50 in JFT 220, and Thursdays 1:45-2:45 in the TLC, College Hall Rm. 113 | Office Phone: 845-257-2739


This course will offer students an in-depth look at the drama and poetry of Shakespeare and the culture of his early modern England.  We will read a wide range of plays and poetry as we consider Shakespeare’s canon in all of its stunning variety: from political thrillers and piercing revenge tales to moving stories of mercy and forgiveness.  Lectures, group activities, discussions and writing assignments will focus on helping students gain a rich knowledge and comprehension of Shakespeare’s language, how his plays were performed, and the scholarly criticism that it has inspired.  Along the way, we will find opportunity to probe the deeper social questions raised by his plays.  How should a society treat people of different races and classes?  Are gender and sexuality like actors’ roles, parts to be learned and played?  When is vengeance (and the violence that inevitably accompanies it) morally justifiable?  We will also look at several modern performances of Shakespeare’s plays as we consider the continued popularity and influence of Shakespearean drama on our own time.  No previous coursework on Shakespeare is necessary or expected for students enrolled in the course. 

Course Materials:


I have ordered the Norton Shakespeare (2nd Edition)* for our course and encourage you to purchase it.  If you want to own one copy of Shakespeare to have on your bookshelf, this is it.  In addition to being the best text available of the plays, it contains useful resources, notes and supplementary readings we will use in the course (and you may want for your own further reading).  If you already own a good edition of Shakespeare (one with notes and glosses, such as the Arden Shakespeare, Riverside Shakespeare, or Pelican, for example) you should feel free to use it for the course, as I will make readings from the Norton available via Blackboard and on reserve.  But please note: I expect that you will print or bring a copy of any additional readings to class for discussion.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition. Although I do not require that you buy this book, I think that all English majors should own and use this text. I will expect you to use proper MLA citation style in your assignments for our class.

Standards and Style (Our English Department’s Guide to Writing, available electronically at


The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare2nd Edition (Please make sure you purchase the second edition, and not the earlier one).

Learning Outcomes:

  1. To gain a better knowledge of Shakespeare’s writing and the period in which he lived through various kinds of written, oral, and research‐based assignments.
  2. Through your reading and study of Shakespeare’s language, you will develop your critical thinking, writing, and reading skills.
  3. To build a community of Shakespeare scholarship that enhances our understanding of his work.
  4. To provide you with foundational cultural knowledge of perhaps the most influential collection of writing in English.
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