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Each lecture in this series focuses on a single play by Shakespeare, and employs a range of different approaches to try to understand a central critical question about it. Rather than providing overarching readings or interpretations, the series aims to show the variety of different ways we might understand Shakespeare, the kinds of evidence that might be used to strengthen our critical analysis, and, above all, the enjoyable and unavoidable fact that Shakespeare's plays tend to generate our questions rather than answer them.
This is a course on Shakespeare’s career, given at Brandeis University in the spring of 2010, by William Flesch. It covers several representative plays from all four genres: comedy, tragedy, history, and romance. We consider both the similarities and differences among those genres, and how his more and more radical experimentations in genre reflect his developing thought, about theater, about time, about life, over the course of his career. In terms of texts, any complete Shakespeare will suffice, including this free version online from MIT. The Norton Shakespeare, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, is also recommended.