Laney College, spring 2005

Laney College, spring 2015
Instructor: Chris Weidenbach
English 17A/217A, Sections 24614 / 24615
Office: Tower 550
Class Meetings: Thursday 6-8:50pm, room E-254
Office Hours: Mon-Thurs 11-Noon
Course website:
Required Texts/Access: Five individual plays are the main texts required for the course.
Students are encouraged to use the free online texts posted on the course website, or to obtain
copies of the plays on their own via new and/or used bookstores in the area. The plays we read
will be chosen, to a great extent, by the class’ shared interests. At least one play, Richard III, will
be on the list because it is being produced/staged locally during the months of February-March.
Other readings, including introductions to the plays, study guides, and critical reviews will be
assigned and posted on the course website. Students are encouraged to keep notes in a
notebook when reading ‘on-screen’, and to make print copies of texts if they want to annotate a
‘hard copy’.
Course Description: In this course, we will focus on William Shakespeare’s theatrical works in
text, live performance and film, and their impact on and relationships to theater, culture, and
the arts. Our goal will be to know these plays, and decide what possibilities of interpretation
and performance we find in the works; we will also, of course, consider the relevance and
importance of the themes and characters to our current social and personal lives.
Assignments will include:
 Reading responses—Once or twice per play, when a reading assignment is due, students
will be asked to write 1 page, typed or handwritten, about the reading and the ideas it
brings to mind. The specific focus of these assignments will vary. (credit/no credit)
 Occasional in-class writings and quizzes—related to the readings and film viewings.
 Two Formal Essays—one on the experience of reading one play’s full script, one focused
on interpretation and critique of another play. (est. 3-5 pages each)
 Group activities including discussions and presentation or performance of scenes.
 Students will be encouraged to see productions when possible, earning extra credits
and building these performance experiences into their coursework.
Students will be asked to attend at least ONE local production of Shakespeare’s
Richard III at Impact Theatre in February-March, and submit a 1-2-page review of
the performance and/or the attendance experience, accompanied by a performance
program or ticket-stub. Performance information will be posted on the
Performances page.
Final Exam written in class, focused on the composite experience of our semester-long
engagement with these texts
Grades will be calculated strictly on the basis of performance. Here’s the breakdown:
In-class writings, reading quizzes, written responses and live performance reviews
Active participation in readings, discussions and group exercises
Formal essays
Final exam
Students will always receive a grade based on these percentages, but students who exhibit
strong engagement in the course may receive a higher grade. The final grade will be based on
the scale of 90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, and 0-59=F.
Attendance: Students are expected to attend class regularly and punctually! This is the way
to keep the course equitable for everyone, maintain a robust, stimulating pace, and build a
classroom community free from resentment. Students who miss a fourth class will be subject to
a one-letter grade reduction, and additional absences my earn further deductions. Late arrivals
and early departures will be ‘added up’ accordingly.
Due Dates:
Since most writing assignments are intended to be shared with classmates on the days they are
due, all readings, reading responses, essay drafts and essays are due on the dates posted.
Assignment due dates will be firm. If, due to genuine illness or emergency, a student must
submit an assignment or essay after the due date, the instructor may accept it, but provide no
written feedback on the assignment other than a score or indication of credit.
Classroom Decorum:
Normal academic guidelines will hold sway in this course regarding respectful demeanor by
all individuals toward each other. This demeanor especially includes respecting each other’s
discussion space—not hogging a discussion, ‘cross-talking’, or interrupting someone who is
Other courtesies will be expected of all students, such as not eating or drinking anything other
than water in the classroom, and ensuring that any electronic devices, such as cell phones,
pagers, game machines, hand-held organizers a la Blackberries, electronic dictionaries, and
music players are either turned off completely or set to operate noiselessly. The regular use of
music players, cell phones and other communications devices is prohibited during class
meetings. In terms of emergency needs, students are asked to set phones to operate noiselessly,
and to answer any emergency calls outside the classroom.
Assigned Readings and Film Viewings—tentative weekly schedule:
Play 1: Jan-Feb
Play 2: Feb-March
Play 3: March
Spring Break: March 30-April 4
Play 4: April
Play 5: April-May
Final exam written in class: May 14