Skip to the content
Cal State L.A.


English 417 Syllabus

Prof. Jim Garrett
Office: E & T A608
Office Hours: Tuesday 3-4pm, Thursday 10:30-11:30am
Phone: (323) 343-4163

Course Description

Prerequisites: Upper division standing is prerequisite to enrollment in 400-level courses. ENGL 102 or its equivalent is prerequisite to all upper division English courses. Prerequisite for all literature courses: ENGL 250, or 200A, 200B or 200C unless otherwise stated.

Catalog Description: Shakespearean drama. Intensive study of five or six plays chosen from the following: Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV–Part One, Richard III, and Hamlet; elements of Shakespearean drama.

Learning Objectives: English 417 introduces students to the basic elements of Shakespearean drama (character, structure, setting, imagery, theme, verse form, and so on) and situates the plays within their theatrical and sociopolitical contexts. Our goal is not to exhaust these plays, but rather to learn and practice ways of reading that will enable us to read and understand Shakespearean drama and to analyze and critique staged and cinematic performances of the plays. After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

Identify and distinguish among Shakespeare’s major works, and describe their relative chronological position in the canon;

Identify the important political, religious, and cultural events that occurred during Shakespeare’s life, and use these ideas to interpret the plays;

Describe the manner in which an Elizabethan play was performed;

Apply various critical approaches to Shakespeare’s life and/or works;

Analyze the importance of performance choices (text, casting, set, costume, blocking, props, enunciation, and so on) in creating meaning;

Produce several original, documented essays demonstrating competency in critical reading, literary analysis and writing.

Course Requirements: There is much reading and writing in this class. You will need to be diligent about planning ahead and completing your tasks on time. Listed below are the required assignments for this course:

  1. Two writing assignments (each 20% of course grade)
  2. A mid-term exam (20% of course grade)
  3. A take-home final exam (20% of course grade)
  4. Performance of a short monologue with an accompanying one-page character analysis (5% of course grade)
  5. Group performance of a scene with an accompanying 1-2 page scene analysis (10% of course grade)
  6. Attendance, punctuality, participation, effort (5% of course grade)

In order to pass this course all assignments (papers and exams) must be legitimately attempted.  Plagiarism (see description below) does not constitute a legitimate attempt of the assignment.


The following texts are required for this class:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, The Tempest (preferably New Folger Library editions)

McDonald, Ross. The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare (2nd edition, Bedford, 2001)

The following texts are recommended for this class (they have not been ordered and therefore are not available in the bookstore):

A Literary Terms Guide—Abrams, Glossary of Literary Terms (Wadsworth, 2008); Cuddon, Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory (Penguin, 2000); Hamilton, Essential Literary Terms (Norton, 2007); Harmon, A Handbook to Literature (Prentice-Hall, 2008)

A Format/Style Guide—Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (MLA, 2009); The Chicago Manual of Style (Univ. of Chicago, 2003); Turabian, et al, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Univ. of Chicago, 2007); Williams, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (Longman, many editions available)


Grading Policy: The distribution of points for the individual assignments in this course is listed in “Requirements” above. For the quarter, 250 points are possible. Course grades are based on standard percentages (i.e. 90% and greater is some version of an A, 80%-89% is some version of a B and so on). Plus and minus grades are used in the class.

Electronic Devices: Please turn off all computers, cell phones, pagers, portable radios, televisions, computers, MP3/CD/Disc/Mini-disc players, and any other electronic communication and/or entertainment devices before coming to class. Please do not use telephones, text messaging, instant messaging, IRC, email, snail mail, carrier pigeon, paper airplanes or any other means of surreptitious and distracting communication during class.

Contacting the Instructor: Email is the most effective way of communicating with me outside of class and my office hours. However, be reasonable. If you email me at 2:00 AM the morning before a paper is due, don’t expect a response.

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. I will take attendance at the start of every class. If you are not present I will mark you absent. Arriving late will count as half of an absence. You are allowed one absence without penalty. Each absence beyond the first one will reduce your course grade. If you miss more than four classes you will be disqualified from taking the final and therefore will fail the class.

Please read the assigned material thoroughly and thoughtfully prior to class and be prepared to contribute to class discussions. If you do not voluntarily contribute to class discussion, I will call on you. If you are absent, you are responsible for the material you missed; if possible, make arrangements in advance with a classmate.

Written Assignments: Please note the following carefully when preparing your written assignments for this class:

Academic Dishonesty/Cheating: Collaborating with others is encouraged when you are planning your papers, reviewing each other’s work, preparing for presentations or for exams. Study or reading groups can be effective ways to study and learn. However, when you write your papers, the text needs to be your own.

5151 State University Drive . Los Angeles . CA 90032 . (323) 343-3000
© 2008 Trustees of the California State University

Last Update: 03/31/2009