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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Louise Spiegler
B CUSP 117
Bothell Campus

Discovery Core II: Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts

Examines an important social issue such as ecology, art, political change, the power of media, educational reform, or the role of science in contemporary culture through interdisciplinary investigation and the lens of the visual, literary, and performing arts. Offered: W.

Class description

In this course we will examine the real story behind the greatest poetic dramas ever written in the English language, while immersing ourselves in the plays themselves. How do Shakespeare’s plays connect to the world of early modern Europe, Africa and even the Caribbean? How have these plays been transformed to reflect later times?

This interdisciplinary study will put the plays in historical context, revealing how they emerged from the world-view of the early modern world. We will look at questions such as: What were traditions governing relations between men and women in early modern Europe? Why are there witches in Macbeth? Had Shakespeare ever met a Jew when he created Shylock in The Merchant of Venice? How did relations between Europe and Africa and Europe and the Islamic world influence Othello? What concept did early modern Europeans have of the newly discovered Americas and the way they should be settled/exploited and how does that emerge in The Tempest?

Having studied the way in which Shakespeare was embedded in, yet transcended, the history of his times, students will have a chance to investigate how his works have been transformed to connect with later times and will even do some of the transforming themselves.

Student learning goals

Students will understand relationships between specific characters and situations in Shakespeare’s plays and the cultural, political, religious, economic and social context in which they were written.

Students will apply critical thinking to analyses of complex literary texts, such as the plays.

Students will use both primary and secondary research sources to expand their understand of the plays and the time in which they were written.

Students will use both written and performance-based expression to craft an individual interpretation of Shakespeare's work.

Students will examine issues of power, inequality and oppression as they relate to both the plays and the time period

Students will interact in diverse learning environments and deepen their cultural and global awareness.

General method of instruction

This will be a highly interactive class, with students engaging in small and large group discussions as well as interpretative group projects focused on performance, interpretation and research.

Recommended preparation

Students will need to come to class prepared, having done the reading and writing at home, as this will provide the basis for class activities.

Class assignments and grading

There will be many different opportunities for assessment, and students can expect that the instructor will provide feedback.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Louise Spiegler
Date: 10/11/2013