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Study Materials

Page history last edited by Patricia Fumerton 4 years, 2 months ago

Required Texts


Films on Reserve 

The following films of the plays we are reading this quarter are available in the course's Gauchospace, under "Gauchocast." That is also where the taped lectures will be made available. "None of the films below is Shakespeare's play, but they are all interesting film adaptations and can help to suggest the possibilities of the plays."

  • Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, The Taming of the Shrew (1967). Interesting, if strange, parallels with their dramatic real-life marriage. Captures well the rough-and-tumble exuberance of the Native Festive comedic tradition.
  • BBC production of The Taming of the Shrew (1981), directed by Jonathan Miller. John Cleese is a deadly serious Petruchio and the play moves toward a taming that is about Puritanical self-control.
  • William Woodman, Richard II (1992)
  • BBC/Time-Life Shakespeare, Richard II (1981). The best of a pretty mediocre lot of films of the play. Still waiting for an imaginative director to turn it into a hit.
  • Michael Hoffman, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999). Bicycles and phonographs replace the exoticism of the East in this 19th c modernization of the play. Kevin Kline steals the show as Bottom.
  • Max Reinhardt, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935). Classic, though peformed in a sentimental Victorian vein, with hundreds of pretty fairies, lots of music, etc..
  • Peter Hall, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1981). Royal Shakespeare Company, including Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren, and Judy Dench. Smart and unsentimental revisionist version of the play.
  • Actor Shakespeare Theater segments of The Merchant of Venice (1986), featuring Patrick Stewart (reading versions of speeches of Shylock) and Lisa Harrow (reading versions of speeches by Portia). Excellent for gaining different perspectives on the roles.
  • Laurence Olivier, The Merchant of Venice (1973). Filmed version of a stage production with setting in Edwardian England.
  • Michael Radford, The Merchant of Venice (2004). Star-filled cast (Al Pacino as Shylock, Jeremy Irons as Antonio, Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio). Shylock as a "heavy."
  • Michael Almereyda, Hamlet (2000). Takeover of a medieval Danish throne is rendered as corporate takeover in modern New York. Ethan Hawke plays a muted Hamlet. Interesting use of technology.
  • Laurence Olivier, Hamlet (1948). Classic. Expressionistic film style with Freudian interpretation.
  • Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet (1996). Brilliant recent Hamlet which plays entire Hamlet text uncut. Clearly the most important film Hamlet since Olivier's.
  • Franco Zeffirelli, Hamlet (191), with Mel Gibson as hunky, pent-up Hamlet and Glenn Close as his mother, Gertrude. Heavy on Freudian interpretation.


Online Resources


First Paper

(2-3 pp.; due Monday, May 18, at 2 pm. in your TA's mailbox and uploaded to Gauchospace)


Instructions for paper:


Possible Topics:




Second Paper

(4-5 pp.; due Monday, May 25th, at 2 pm. in your TA's mailbox and uploaded to Gauchospace)


Instructions for paper:

  • Choose one of the topics offered below on either The Merchant of Venice or Hamlet (You may only choose a different topic with the consultation and approval of your TA.)
  • Make an original and interesting argument (a thesis) about the topic.
  • Back up your thesis with solid evidence. Quote the play frequently and pay attention to the details of the language you quote (telling words, repetitions, meter, rhyme, imagery, tone, punctuation, etc.)
  • You need not answer every question posed in the topic suggestions. They are there to provoke thought.



Possible Topics: 




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