Rider University College of Continuing Studies
Introduction to Shakespeare
Meeting day and time: T 6:00PM-9:00PM Building and Room: Arts 373
Instructor: Professor Vanita Neelakanta
Office: Fine Arts 331
Office hours: TBA
Phone: 609 895 5581
“He was not of an age, but for all time” was the pronouncement of rival playwright Ben
Jonson, on the occasion of Shakespeare’s death. But what is it about Shakespeare that
makes him the most widely-read writer in any language? In this course, we will consider
why Shakespeare’s work is considered universal – across ages and continents - by
examining representative tragedies, comedies and romances. In particular, we will focus
on some of the issues which intrigued Shakespeare throughout his extraordinary career:
generation conflict, power vs. love, art’s capacity to create/change worlds, to name a few.
Above all, we will consider his powerful and unprecedented interrogation of what it
means to be human in a rapidly “modern” world.
(available at the Rider University Bookstore)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Folger Shakespeare)
Twelfth Night (Folger Shakespeare)
Macbeth (Folger Shakespeare)
Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare)
The Tempest (Folger Shakespeare)
1. Reading assignments must be completed before the day for which they are
assigned. This course relies heavily on discussion, and it is very important we are
all prepared to discuss the day’s reading.
2. Since our class meets every alternate week, you are encouraged to take full
advantage of the facility for online discussion on blackboard, especially on the
days we do not meet.
3. On-line quizzes will be given for each of the texts we read in class. These quizzes
will be graded.
4. You will be asked to write a short paper comparing a film or theater adaptation of
a Shakespeare play with its original (due end of the semester).
5. A final exam which will consist of two parts: of two parts: an in-class exam
(identifying quotations, multiple choice, allusions) and a take-home section (short
answers explaining concepts)
In-class quizzes: 25%
In-class participation: 30%
All papers and quizzes are due on the dates specified in the syllabus. You are allowed
one grace period of 48 hours. Please note that I do not accept paper or quiz
submissions over email. All papers must be handed in to my mailbox in Fine Arts or
to me personally in class.
Class participation is an integral part of this course and attendance is crucial. If you must
miss a class due to illness or some other unavoidable reason, please email me ahead of
If you are a student with a documented physical, psychological, or learning
disability on record at Rider University and wish to have a reasonable
accommodation made for you in this class, please see me immediately.
Week1: September 9: Introduction to Shakespeare
The Elizabethan playhouse; Scenes from Shakespeare in Love
Introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Week 2: September 23: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Scenes from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream dir. (1999)
Week 3: October 7: Twelfth Night
Scenes from Twelfth Night or What You Will dir. Trevor Nunn (1996)
Week 4: October 21: Macbeth
Scenes from Throne of Blood dir. Akira Kurosawa (1957)
Week 5: November 4: Hamlet
Scenes from Hamlet dir. Michael Almereyda (2000)
Week 6: November 18: Hamlet
Scenes from RSC Hamlet dir. Michael Boyd (2004)
Week 7: December 2: The Tempest
Scenes from The Tempest dir. Jack Bender (1998)
Week 8: December 9: Conclusion to The Tempest, wrap-up.