Spring 2021 - ENGL 313 D100

Late Shakespeare (4)

Class Number: 4156

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 28, 2021
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM

  • Prerequisites:

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



A study of the works of Shakespeare performed after 1600. 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.


"Shakespeare And/In Decision"

This course will treat three great Shakespearean tragedies in detail: Othello, Hamlet and Macbeth. We will examine carefully the decisions made by central characters and protagonists (for example, in no particular order: Hamlet, Desdemona, Iago, Othello, Ophelia, Macbeth, Claudius, Cassio, Banquo, Gertrude, Lady Macbeth, Duncan etc.). 

We will begin by reading a few pages of Aristotle, whose emphasis on error is key to understanding tragic decisions. Then we will move on to cover the plays. We will start with Othello, a play about how decisions we think are individual can be influenced by others. Then we will read Hamlet, a play about how too much information, and too many goals, can prevent decisions from being made (Hamlet's alleged delay or paralysis). Finally we will read Macbeth, a play that shows just how fraught decisions can be under conditions of extreme emotional turbulence. We will also pay careful attention to how rhetoric and persuasion function in these plays, looking not only at how characters persuade and manipulate each other, but also how they “work” on themselves -- via, for example, the stories they tell -- to persuade themselves of something or to make a course of action more appealing, especially at crucial moments of decision making. What emerges is a playwright fascinated by the faults, flaws and foibles of the mind under strain.

The course will be offered remotely. Lectures and Assignments (as well as regular Announcements) will be posted on Canvas. The Lectures may also be posted on YouTube, for ease of viewing. There will be only a few synchronous ("live") meetings, held at our collective convenience, to discuss the short paragraph assignments. Students may be asked to screen a couple film versions of a play at home. We will devote at least three weeks to each of these plays. Students must be prepared to read these rich plays very carefully. Any additional theoretical material will be provided by me, posted on Canvas or perhaps via Google Drive.


To have a full and rewarding understanding of these complex plays, via a grasp of the relevant dramatic, historical and philosophical material.



First essay 8-10 pages due around mid-term (40%)

Second essay 8-10 pages due at end of term (40%)

Four short "paragraph assignments" provided by me, such as "write a paragraph about a Shakespeare passage" (20%)



Othello (The New Cambridge Shakespeare), ed. Sanders. Cambridge University Press. Third edition, paperback or electronic edition.
ISBN: 9781316416051

Hamlet (The New Cambridge Shakespeare), ed. Edwards. Cambridge University press. Third edition, paperback or electronic edition.
ISBN: 9781316594117

Macbeth (New Cambridge Shakespeare), ed. Braunmuller. Cambridge University press. Second edition, paperback or electronic edition.
ISBN: 9780511810381

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).