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“To Be or Not to Be” Shakespeare’s Hamlet - Fall 2019 & Winter 2020


In this course, actors such as David Tennant, Andrew Scott, Kenneth Branagh and Paapa Essedieu will be our guides to the tortured Prince of Denmark in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Hamlet is an indispensable piece of Western literature—classic lines from the play decorate our speech, and Hamlet the man has become a cultural icon. We imagine the classic pose, skull held aloft, “Alas poor Yorick.” We have heard “to be or not to be” even if we’ve never seen the play itself. Yet this play—Shakespeare’s longest—continues to daunt many students and teachers.

We will use a student-friendly edition of the play that takes the original unabridged text and provides helpful sidenotes and background information. In class, I use my signature style of teaching Shakespeare with passion, intensity, and videos to unpack the language and themes, learning to appreciate and enjoy the text through instruction and discussion.

Hamlet is a play that covers such a vast spectrum of human experience—family bonds, love and heartache, madness, authority and leadership, life and death, and human fate. These ideas will be explored through the backdrop of the play and its language.

Students will be expected to pre-read the scene up for discussion before class, and then in class I will clarify obscure words and phrases, explain the dialogue and soliloquies, and show students how various directors and actors interpret the play on the stage and screen.

Students will also keep a journal of important, interesting, and memorable quotes from the play along with their reflections and thoughts on the characters, themes, and quotes. They will use these quotes in a final project due at the end of the course.

Content note: this play includes discussion of infidelity/adultery, incest, and sexuality. No sexually explicit discussion occurs, but rather these are discussed as broad themes.

NOTE: Registration deadline is August 26, 2019.

We are sorry but registration for this event is now closed.

Please contact us if you would like to know if spaces are still available.