Critical Terms
Academic Integrity Policy*
Academic Resources*
Grade / Point system*
all my classes
wcu english

Course Objectives

This course helps you to learn more about the Renaissance, which is a period that ranges broadly from 1400 in some countries to 1660 in other countries. It is a period, more aptly called the Early Modern period, characterized by a host of dynamic transformations to Europe, including but not limited to

  • Revitalized trade with the Islamic world and, with it, the recovery of a range of classical texts and art forms
  • Gains in the sciences, mathetmatics, music, art, and literature propelled at first by these classical forms and works
  • Improved navigation ability and with it, the discovery of cultures in the Americas and the east
  • Explotation of those cultures and a fascination with "exotic" others
  • Religious and political upheaval
  • Inventions, such as printing, that transformed education and the speed of cultural influence

Other course goals:

Upon completion of this class, students will have the following skills:

  1. Critical Reading of Primary Texts
    Students will read critically a wide variety of works of Shakespeare and other early modern authors, including plays and poems, and gain a new understanding of their language and art
  2. Critical Writing About Primary Texts
    Students analyze and interpret in writing those works of literature using appropriate evidence, conventions, and language
  3. Improved understanding of the cultural context of these works
    Works will be read the plays in the context of the political, cultural, scientific, and religious contexts in which they were written.
  4. Oral Presentation and Critical Discussion
    discuss and present, in an informed manner, ideas about or relating Shakespeare and his age.


Attendance policy

This class meets twice a week, so I begin lowering your grade by one letter after four missed classes. That includes excused or unexcused absences; I don't care why you're absent. However, here are some good tips regarding attendance:

  • Don't schedule doctor's appointments during my class.
  • Don't schedule makeup classes or exams for other instructors during my class.
  • Don't shedule rehearsals, trips home, family reunions, or trips to see your significant other during my class.
  • Don't leave my class before it is over or arrive more than 10 minutes after it has begun. I count those as absences.
  • Frequent lateness equals an absence.
  • Try to save your absences for illness and emergencies.
  • Above all, find out what you missed and what's required for the next class. You are responsibe for all missed material. I don't like emails asking if you missed anything.

I do excuse university absences when I am required to do so (university sponsored trips, etc.) but I expect you to find out what you missed and do the work you missed.

Digital incivility

You may use an ebook reader in my class, but please don't use a computer, phone, or laptop for anything else. Turn your phones off and put them away (not in your lap or on your desk). If I discover that you're on Facebook, email, texting, browsing, or using any digital resources except for our textbook, I will mark you absent and ask you to leave.

If you need to use a computer to take notes or if you have a disability that requires the use of certain tools, please let me know in advance.

I reserve the right to check your computer's screen to make sure you're following my policy. If you put it away when I try to look at it, I will assume you are breaking my rules and will mark you absent and ask you to leave.


  • Quizzes (25%): *A note on quizzes: Right now, they are all open-note quizzes, so bring your notes! For all quizzes, check syllabus to see if quiz guide link is active. The quiz guide link is listed in the right-hand column of the previous class; that column is headed "homework for next class." If a quiz is scheduled, the link will be active 24 hours before class begins. To make sure you're looking at the most recent version of the page, hit CTRL + F5 (PC) or Apple + R / Command + R (Apple). Note that if students don't seem to be comleting the readings, I will give unannounced quizzes as well.
  • Participation and online discussion, including films (20%): You will be graded on line discussion forums and on your regular, informed participation in class. You cannot participate without refering to the assigned work, so included in participation is bringing the work for that day to class.
  • Group Oral presentation (20%): These are due before the last class for each play (so, for example, if Hamlet is due Friday, your imagery analysis for Hamlet is due at noon on that day). Hand these in on Blackboard (see Content, Writing Assignments folder). No imagery analyses will be accepted late. No ungraded assignments will count towards your final grade. You cannot do well if you don't do these.
  • Research Paper (35%): Students will do one research paper, in which they discuss how a work of literature was impacted by either another discipline or another culture. For each paper, I will require a thesis first, then notes or quotes, then a group conference, and then a completed draft, then list of background sources, then notes, and then a second draft that incorporates research. All parts will receive a grade. I will not accept the final paper if you have not met the other deadlines.
    • Feb 12-March 5: Gathering primary evidence (Othello)
    • March 12: Working thesis
    • Group conferences: March 26-April 6 (discussion of organization and possible secondary research topics)
    • First Draft: April 11
    • Second draft: April 25


  • Rental Text: Puchner, Martin, et al. Norton Anthology of World Literature,Volume C. New York: WW Norton 2012.
  • Other textbooks online.
Dr. Mary Adams, instructor
last updated 31-jan-18