English 4223
Spring 2007

Dr. Chip Rogers
Phone: 341-8908
Email: chip@chipspage.com
Web address: www.chipspage.com

Office: Baird Hall 104
Office phone: 343-7748
Office hours: MW 10:00-12:00, 1:30-2:00,
   TuTh 11:30-12:30, 1:45-2:30, and by


The 2006-2007 RSU Bulletin describes English 4223 as "Analysis of a selection of Shakespeare's tragedies, comedies, histories, sonnets, and other lyric poetry. Selected criticism, 1600 to the present. Historical background and Shakespeare's theater" (116). My fundamental aim is to lead you through intensive exploration of a representative and chronological sampling of Shakespeare's most significant and enduring works—particularly the plays. We will focus on three primary concerns throughout the semester: 1) the uncanny continuing relevance of Shakespeare—i.e. universality of themes and dramatic representation of fundamental aspects of humanity; 2) Shakespeare's unrivaled verbal virtuosity—the power, efficiency, and aesthetics of Shakespearean verse and prose; and 3) critical and scholarly perspectives on Shakespeare throughout the ages.

In short, we shall attempt to understand what it is that makes Shakespeare so uncommonly special and so widely revered by so many of the greatest thinkers and writers of the past four centuries—what makes such eminent contemporary scholars as Harold Bloom believe that "The more one reads and ponders the plays of Shakespeare, the more one realizes that the accurate stance toward them is one of awe. . . . Bardolatry, the worship of Shakespeare, ought to be even more a secular religion than it already is" (Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human xvii).


There are no absolute prerequisites for this course. However, you should be aware that English 4223 is a senior-level class requiring competence and significant experience with academic writing, advanced research, and analysis of complex literature. Under no circumstances should any student take this class who has not successfully completed two semesters of English composition, and it is strongly recommended that no student attempt the class who has not also completed at least one (and preferably more than one) semester of college English at the sophomore level or above (English 2000 level or higher). You should see me right away to discuss potential difficulties with the class if you have not completed at least three semesters of college English in the past five years.

Texts and Materials

The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Ed. David Bevington. 5th edition. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2004.
"Handouts" from my website.

Each class is important, so it is crucial that you be in class on time every day. I record attendance daily, and absences will affect your grade. For this course there are no distinctions between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. Students with more than three absences cannot pass the class—regardless of the reasons for any of the absences. I understand that "stuff happens," and not every student will be able to attend every class meeting. I will try to work with you on any major assignments you happen to miss (i.e. any assignments other than reading quizzes), especially when you let me know about the absence before missing class: feel free to call me at home or send email anytime you know you will not be in class.

Late work: Late work will be penalized one letter grade for each class day the assignment is late. Work turned in more than three class days late will receive no higher grade than F, and I accept no work more than two weeks late.

Bare minimum course requirements: Regardless of your overall grade average, to be eligible to pass the course you must turn in both formal papers, submit at least six critical responses, complete corrections assignments for both formal papers and at least two critical responses, give a research presentation, and take both the midterm and final exams.

Plagiarism: Except for assignments expressly calling for collaborative effort, all written work must be your own. Any unacknowledged borrowing from the writings of others will be considered plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. I will submit any cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty for review by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Penalties for plagiarism are severe, ranging from an F for the course to expulsion from the college. For more on plagiarism, follow the "On Plagiarism" link on my website.

ADA Statement: Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services.  Any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of academic accommodation must inform the professor of such need during or immediately following the first class attended.  Before any educational accommodation can be provided, it is the responsibility of each student to prove eligibility for assistance by registering for services through Student Affairs. Students needing more information about Student Disability Services should contact the Office of Student Affairs at (918) 343-7579.

Course Methodology
Class discussion: Most class periods will involve open discussion of the readings with very little lecture, so your participation in discussion is essential. I will call on reticent or "quiet" students frequently, and class participation does factor into your semester grade.

Critical response writings: informal typed writings of at least 250 words responding to the readings before we discuss them in class.  Note that each critical response assignment is valid for one class period only, and that critical responses are accepted only by the beginning of the period for which they are assigned.  I will post critical response questions on the web and announce them in class the meeting before each reading assignment is due. 

Exams: Both the midterm and the final will consist of two parts: 1) "short answers," or brief paragraph-length commentary on the significance of specific passages, and 2) essays making connections in theme or technique between different works. There will be one essay on the midterm and two on the final. You will have some choice in the short answer and essay portions of each exam: you might, for instance, select 6 of 8 short answer items and 1 of 3 essay options.

Papers: In two formal essays of 6-10 pages (1800-2000 word minimum), you will explore in some depth a subject of your choosing from a list of topic options. Papers must be carefully formatted and have sources documented according to MLA guidelines. For at least one of the papers, you will incorporate substantial research into the essay—i.e. you will be required to cite five or more secondary sources of quality scholarship or criticism in addition to the primary work(s) you discuss. You will submit a brief outline well before each paper is due.

Research presentations: Each student will share with the class summaries and evaluations of articles of significant critical commentary on at least one play.  These oral presentations will be brief, no longer than five minutes, and you will compose handouts of no more than 2-3 pages in length (500 word minimum, 700 word maximum).

Conferences: Conferences are not mandatory, but I strongly recommend them if you struggle with any aspect of the readings and at any stage of the paper-writing process—exploring topics, drafting, revising, or editing.  My typical aim in paper conferences is to head off potential problems in your essays and to offer helpful, critical response to your work before you submit it for grading.

"Rewrites": You may rewrite and resubmit graded formal papers for re-grading. Rewrite grades replace original grades completely.  Note that rewriting involves far more substantial revision than correcting grammatical errors: rewrites should also address larger problems in focus, structure, content, and style. The starting point for revision is my typed comments on your graded papers; rewrites should also address comments and questions written in the margins of the original graded papers.


As you will see, I believe in using the Internet as a teaching tool. Most handouts and all out-of-class assignments will be posted on my website rather than being distributed as "hard copy" in class—you are responsible for printing and reading these web-page "handouts" before we discuss them in class. Most handouts are indicated as linked pages on the schedule of readings and assignments. I may occasionally contact you through email also, and I encourage you to email me with questions on any course matters large or small. 

Final grade breakdown

 Class participation
 Critical responses
 Critical response corrections
 Research presentations
 Paper proposals
 Paper 1 
 Paper 2 
 Paper corrections
 Midterm exam
 Final exam

You should track your grades throughout the semester by keeping a "Scorecard." You can also track grades and see your cumulative average (overall course grade) by downloading and filling in the "grade calculator" for this class from my website. Feel free to see me any time throughout the semester to check your cumulative grade—I keep grades on computer spreadsheets that are updated weekly.

A note on note-taking: Although this course involves relatively little lecture, you will have a much easier time on the midterm and final exams and in writing effective papers if you take notes during every class period. Even in discussions where your classmates do more "discussing" than the professor, you would do well to take notes on any significant points made by anyone in the discussion. You would also do well to underline, highlight, or otherwise make note of all passages from the readings that we take special notice of in class.

The Bottom Line:
I hope every member of this class gets an A, and I will do everything I can to make this happen. Don't get me wrong—the standards for "A" work are high, and I make no exceptions in course policies on absences, missed assignments, plagiarism, or late work. But I guarantee you have one of the most accessible instructors at Rogers State: ask for help outside of class, and I'll do my level best to deliver.