Professor Stephen Bluestone
Office: 110B Ware Hall | Telephone: 478-301-4010 | email:
Office Hours: 9:30-10:40 a.m. (T/Th) and by appointment
FYS 101 Fall 2009
English 237 Fall 2009
English 333 Fall 2009
FYS 102 Spring 2009
English 235 Spring 2009
English 382 Spring 2009
FYS 101 Fall 2008
English 237 Fall 2008
English 332 Fall 2008
FYS 102  Spring 2008
English 235 Spring 2008
English 340 Spring 2008
This page is designed to be printed 
Fall 2009
English 333
Shakespeare II
Prof. Stephen Bluestone         
110B Ware Hall
Office telephone: 478-301-4010
Web site:
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 9:30-10:40 a.m.; and by appt
  • The Riverside Shakespeare

  • The Little, Brown Handbook (any of the last two editions is acceptable)

Download Prep Sheet



In this course we’ll study the second half of Shakespeare's career, with special attention to his work in tragedy. We'll also read two comedies: Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice. After reading Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear, we’ll finish with The Tempest, a play written approximately a decade after Hamlet that combines elements of both comedy and tragedy. In our readings we'll take a close look at Shakespeare's treatment of the differences between villainy and heroism. Is the tragic hero a flawed individual or more noble than the rest of humanity? Or both? In our studies we’ll ask whether the play comes first or the character. Can we understand a character apart from the play in which we find that character? Hopefully, as the course proceeds, we'll learn to enjoy these plays as the creations of one of the most astonishing minds in the history of Western culture.

As far as an assignment schedule is concerned, I have discovered over the years that the best approach in a Shakespearean course is to be flexible. Often a discussion of a play or group of plays will lead to new ideas and insights and require more class time than originally planned for the material. My goal is to have serious discussions that are open to possibilities neither I nor the students can anticipate. That is why I will assign our readings as we go along, giving the class no less than one week’s notice in advance of each assignment. The amount of reading done on this basis will be the same as the amount the class would do on a rigid schedule.

1. Participation and attendance (10%). Students are expected to attend every class and actively contribute to discussion. There are no unexcused absences, and the instructor should be notified in advance if an absence is unavoidable. Call my office or the English Office (ext. 2562) and leave a message with the secretary or e-mail me if you cannot be in class.

Class contribution takes several forms. Students may ask questions at any point during a class; students and teacher may engage in question-and-answer sessions; the class as a whole may engage in open discussion, sharing ideas and attempting as a group to deepen our understanding of the material. Students should work at participating effectively in all these formats. Class participation will be evaluated on the basis of evidence of preparation and thoughtfulness about the material. The most important criterion, in my view, is whether one’s contribution to class discussion contributes to the learning of others, including myself. I especially encourage students to share their opinions and to back them up. I like vigorous discussion.

Note, too, that several films will be scheduled for class viewing. Attendance will be required; advance notice will be given as to time and place.

2. Preparations and quizzes (20%). There will be quotation quizzes on the plays assigned. These quizzes will be given on the second class day after each reading assignment is first discussed. There will also be class preparation material due the first day of each reading assignment cycle. (See attached example.) You should be aware that class preparation will be important in this class. 

3. Written work (70%). Two critical papers will be assigned on themes and topics to be discussed; the focus of these papers will be on a conceptual understanding of Shakespearean tragedy. The first paper will be approximately five pages long, and the second 8-10 pages; both will involve research (the use of at least two secondary off-line sources). These papers are to be well organized and thoroughly proofread.

The format of the first sample student paper in The Little, Brown Handbook, in the chapter entitled “Two Sample Research Papers,” is to be followed; bibliographic and “Works Cited” formats are to be found in the chapter entitled “Documenting Sources: MLA Style.”Any paper that has not been spell-checked will receive an automatic “F.” All corrections and editorial changes indicated by the instructor must be made before the next paper is submitted, otherwise the grade on the following paper will be "F." I call this the “Magic Check” process. No exceptions.

When the second paper is submitted, it must be accompanied in a plain tab folder by the first paper. A third, optional paper may also be done. When the optional paper is submitted, it, too, must be accompanied in the folder by previous work. All papers are due at the start of class from the author on the specified due date; papers not handed in on time will be penalized.

4. An optional final exam is available for those who elect it. In my opinion, only those students who feel they are between grades should elect this option. The grade on this exam will be used to determine which of two grades (higher or lower) the student will receive.

5. The Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course. The consequences of violating this code are serious, and all students should be aware of this.

6. Overall grading philosophy. Grades on papers, prep sheets, quizzes, and participation will not necessarily be averaged; much weight will be given to improvement. Each student's written work will be assessed on an individual basis, with emphasis on consistency and the ability to achieve higher standards as the course proceeds. This is called “outcome grading.” I regard it as a truer measure of student learning than the averaging method. It isn’t as tidy, but it’s more individual and more closely reflects the actual learning curve. In my experience, this method achieves more accurate results than the traditional averaging method.

In addition to the assigned work, each student may do extra assignments based on the course reading, campus events (films, plays, etc.), as well as outside reading. This work will be read and graded and included in the above-mentioned folder. Thus, much work in this class may well be individually generated. I call this process “Making the Case for the ‘A.’” Note: the averaging method may be elected by a student if that student so chooses; this must be done at the start of the course. Notify me within a week of the start of the semester. After one week, there can be no changes in the grading system.

Further note: It is course policy that all assigned work (papers, quizzes, prep sheets, etc.) must be completed in order for a student to pass the course. Again, no exceptions.

Students with a documented disability should inform the instructor at the close of the first class meeting or as soon as possible.  If you are not registered with Disability Services, the instructor will refer you to the Student Support Services office for consultation regarding documentation of your disability and eligibility for accommodations under the ADA/504.  In order to receive accommodations, eligible students must provide each instructor with a Faculty Accommodation Form from Disability Services.  Students must return the completed and signed form to the

Disability Services office on the 3rd floor of the Connell Student Center.  Students with a documented disability who do not wish to use accommodations are strongly encouraged to register with Disability Services and complete a Faculty Accommodation Form each semester.  For further information please contact Disability Services at 301-2778 or visit the web site at


It goes without saying that the Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course.