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Shakespeare's Tragedies and Histories: Written Materials

The Text

The recommended text for this course is any good modern text of the plays with explanatory notes. Copies of The Necessary Shakespeare (ed. David Bevington) have been ordered from the Bookstore.

  Note: All line references in the commentary to this course are to the Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare. If you use some other edition you may have to hunt for references to act, scene, and line, because in prose passages the lines are different.

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The Course Modules

The seven modules give you the equivalent of a semester of classroom lectures. Each concentrates on a single play. You will find that the modules outline learning objectives, direct your reading and study, explain key concepts, and provide an illustrated commentary on the plays. Within the modules you will find highlighted questions and exercises to help you prepare for discussion in the tutorials. These are designed to provoke thought and help you gauge your understanding of the text and commentary; they provide you with opportunities to apply information, and alert you to the need for review.

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Background Studies

Each of the seven modules has a special section on the background of the plays, or on readings connected to them. The background materials attempt to fill information gaps that might interfere with your appreciation of Shakespeare's writing. They will concentrate on giving you information about the staging, the literary traditions, the beliefs, the politics, and the issues debated in the period. In the latter part of the course some of the background discussion will deal with contemporary critical approaches to Shakespeare's plays. You should read the background module before you work through the detailed commentary.

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Essay Writing for University Courses--A Writer's Guide

You should also buy a copy of A Writer's Guide, a text published by the Department of English to assist you in preparing your essays and assignments. You will be expected to follow the conventions of usage and punctuation outlined in the Guide. An on-line version of the Guide is available at <>.

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This page last updated on 28 December 2002. © Internet Shakespeare Editions, 2002.