English 442K—Shakespeare

Maymester 2004

Professor Charles Ross

cross@purdue.edu; HEAV 304A


Text: The Necessary Shakespeare, ed. David Bevington (available at Von’s)



Due to the compressed time frame of Maymester, this course will stress in-class workshops on reading, analysis, and dramatization of a limited number of representative comedies, tragedies, and histories. In addition to class participation, you are responsible for reading the plays and taking notes, for use in class, on the “action” (a concept you will learn the first week) of each scene in The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet.


May 17-21: 1 Henry IV

May 24: The Taming of the Shrew

May 25-28: Hamlet

May 31 (no class)

June 1-4: As You Like It

June 7-10: Romeo and Juliet

June 11: Final Exam



In-class participation (50%) is graded in terms of attendance:

0 classes missed: A; 1 class missed: B; 2 classes missed: C; 3 classes missed: D; 4 classes missed: F.


A 5-page paper (20%) on Hamlet to be assigned by the guest lecturer, Erica Rude.

Final Exam (30%):

A series of questions on the life of Shakespeare based on the all the introductory material in the text, which you are responsible for reading; a section on scanning verse; and an essay, for which you may use your notes, on the significant actors in one of the plays (based on the concept of “action” that will be explained).


The grade scale is A=90% and above; B=80%; C=70%.


Defining an “action”

Each scene in Shakespeare may be analyzed in terms of a central action. An action, by my definition, is something that a character does in response to his thoughts about a particular set of circumstances. Mental activity, such as deciding to do something, is not a decision, although announcing a decision, as a speech act, can qualify. An action statement, which you will compose, makes the actor the subject of the sentence and the action the main verb. The sentence should then put in subordinate grammatical positions the circumstances that surround or motivate the action. The action usually takes place at the end of a scene.