Spring 2021 - ENGL 311 E100

Early Shakespeare (4)

Class Number: 4143

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 100 division English courses, and two 200 division English courses.



A study of the works of William Shakespeare performed before 1601. Students may take both ENGL 311 and 313 for credit towards the English major. Students with credit for ENGL 312 may not take this course for further credit without permission of the department.


Read Romeo and Juliet as a grown-up! This play is always foisted off on high school students as somehow more "relatable" because the principle characters are teenagers, and that experience often colours people's opinions about its place in the Shakespearean canon, but it's worth revisiting.

In this course, we will be spending time with four of the plays from Shakespeare's first decade as a playwright, working to contextualize them within the Elizabethan world. We will take them in their chronological order, examining Richard III in part as Tudor propaganda, looking at Romeo and Juliet's roots in oral tradition and Italian literature, attempting to answer the question of whether A Midsummer Night's Dream is indeed an original plot, and looking to Julius Caesar to explain Elizabethan values surrounding education and leadership.

The class is partly synchronous, and partly asynchronous. Of the four weekly course hours, two (5.30–7.30 pm Thursdays) will be conducted over Zoom; two further hours will be spent per your own schedule on Canvas. 


In this course, you will:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of William Shakespeare as a poet, storyteller, and dramatist;
  • Analyze four plays by plot, character, structure, but also 
  • As history, as canonical texts, as propaganda;
  • Learn about Shakespeare's sources in literary and oral tradition;
  • Apply contemporary analytical lenses and explore Shakespearean scholarship.


  • Richard III Online Response / Discussion 10%
  • Romeo & Juliet Online Response / Discussion 10%
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream Online Response / Discussion 10%
  • Julius Caesar Online Response / Discussion 10%
  • Bibliography & Article Review 15%
  • Film Critique 15%
  • Final Project (Scene Sharing) 20%
  • Final Project Review (Scene Sharing) 10%


For the Final Project, you have the option to do this in a small (and covid-safe!) group or individually. Details will follow in the course syllabus, available mid-December.


All course texts can be found online. We will be using the First Folio and the Sonnets, but there are a number of other editions available: Open Source Shakespeare, the Folger Library, etc. The specific plays will be:

  • Richard III
  • Julius Caesar
  • Romeo & Juliet
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream 



N/A (but see the syllabus, which will be available mid-December)


All texts will be available online (see course syllabus for details)

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).