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PLS 30202.

Literature II - Shakespeare and Milton
Spring 2021

Stephen M. Fallon
200 Decio Hall
Office hours: Th 11:00-1:00 and by app’t
Virtual Office:

Building on the foundation of PLS 20201 (Lyric Poetry), this course will introduce you to the
conventions of dramatic and narrative poetry through a study of works by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616) and John Milton (1608-1674). We read in Great Books seminar many of the
greatest masterpieces of world literature in translation. In Shakespeare’s plays and Milton’s epic
we read works in our own language that rival and take their place among the greatest works of
world literature

In successful longer works, as in successful lyric poems, form and meaning are inseparable. We
will therefore examine ways in which the two poets build their works, making them coherent
wholes through structures of imagery, metaphor, and theme. You will learn how to read long
and complex works from the Renaissance with understanding and enjoyment.

Texts (purchase online)

William Shakespeare
Much Ado about Nothing, Signet, newly revised, ISBN 978-0451526816
Hamlet, Norton Critical Edition, ed. Robert Miola. ISBN 978-0393929584
King Lear, Signet, newly rev, ISBN 9780451526939
The Winter's Tale, Signet, newly rev, ISBN 978-0451527141

John Milton
Paradise Lost, Modern Library, ISBN 978-0375757969

Recommended (I will assign readings from this book, are which also available online on the
library site)

Louis Schwartz, ed., The Cambridge Companion to ‘Paradise Lost,’ ISBN 978-1107664401

I will key paper comments to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style

Requirements and Guidelines:

You are required to read the texts carefully, to attend all classes, and to contribute to discussion.
Each student will present orally a designated passage from Paradise Lost and most likely a
designated speech from one of Shakespeare’s plays.
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Lateness will be noticed and will affect the grade. The grades of late papers not granted
extensions will suffer.

Honor Code:
Notre Dame academic life is governed by the Honor Code. You are expected to familiarize
yourself with the Code (see Remember that all sources of ideas and wording
in your papers must be fully cited. If you have questions, ask me. If you feel pressured or
overwhelmed, please talk to me. I consider plagiarism an extremely serious offense, a
fundamental breach of intellectual integrity.

Readings and Assignments:

The reading assignments are subject to change with notice. Readings should be completed on
the first day listed. Our pace will be slow; e.g., we will devote 6 weeks to Paradise Lost, a work
that would be covered in a Great Books seminar in 3 class sessions. I will thus expect multiple
readings of each play and of PL; so read the designated primary text by the date indicated, but
keep re-reading as we discuss the text in class. Reading a primary text only once will not fulfill
the assignment. I will also assign critical and contextual readings, mainly from the class texts
but also from the library website. Keep your eye on your e-mail for additions to or deletions of
secondary literature assignments. You should read all of Milton’s epic by March 8, so that
your reading of pairs of books in each of the following weeks will be at least a second reading.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) I

W, Feb 3– Introduction to the course and Shakespeare (Lecture on Sakai site); read and view aa
video of Much Ado about Nothing (Branagh and Whedon versions available for
streaming on Hesburgh course reserves for this course). Owing to circumstances
beyond my control, I cannot meet the class on this day. Completing the above
steps will count for your attendance; I will take attendance from the Instructor’s
view of the Sakai site, which will indicate who has watched the entire brief

M, Feb 8 – Much Ado about Nothing; Carol Thomas Neely, “Broken Nuptials in Much Ado
about Nothing (in the Signet edition); Stephen B. Dobranski, “Children of the
Mind: Miscarried Narratives in Much Ado about Nothing,” Studies in English
Literature 38 (1998): 233-50 (on Sakai).

W, Feb 10 –Much Ado and Hamlet, Act 1; Stephen Greenblatt, from Hamlet in Purgatory
(Norton 271-82)

M, Feb 15 – Hamlet, Acts 2-5; the play’s sources, Saxo Grammaticus, from Historica Danica
(in Norton edition; 207-15); optional: Belleforest, from Histoires Tragique (Sakai)

W, Feb 17 – Hamlet; Harry Levin, “Irony in Hamlet” (Norton 271-81

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M, Feb 22 – Hamlet; Elaine Showalter, “Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the
Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism” (pp. 78-93 in Shakespeare and the
Question of Theory, ed. Parker and Hartman:

W, Feb 24 – Hamlet; Paradise Lost, I.1-330

F Feb 26 — Deadline for optional Shakespeare essay draft, email by 6:00 pm

John Milton (1608–1674)

The Epic Tradition and Satan’s Epic

M, Mar 1 – Paradise Lost 1-2; Neil Forsyth, “Satan” (Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost;
hereafter CCPL)

W, Mar 3 – John Rumrich, “Things of Darkness: Sin, Death, Chaos” (CCPLP

F, Mar 5 — Shakespeare essay (1500-2000 words); email to by 5:00 pm

Heaven and Eden

M, Mar 8 – PL 3-4; John Rumrich, “Uninventing Milton” (Sakai)

W, Mar 10 – Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (excerpts, pdf on Sakai, read sections between
square brackets); William Shullenberger, “Imagining Eden” (CCPL)

Epic War

M, Mar 15 – PL 5-6; Joad Raymond, “Milton’s Angels” (CCPL)

W, Mar 17 – Karen Edwards, “Cosmology” (CCPL)

Creation, Natural Philosophy, and Gender

M, Mar 22 – PL 7-9.411; Genesis (excerpt); Stephen Fallon, “Milton as Narrator of Paradise

Lost” (CCPL)

W, Mar 24 – Shannon Miller, “Gender”;(CCPL)

Midsemester Break

Read all of Paradise Lost by the end of break)

The Fall and Its Consequences

M, Mar 29 — PL 9.412-10; Gardner Campbell, “Temptation” (CCPL)

W Mar 31 — Maggie Kilgour, “Classical Models” (CCPL)

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Politics and History

M Apr 5 — PL 11-12; Mary C.Fenton, “Regeneration in Books 11 and 12” (CCPL)

W Apr 7 — Ready and Easy Way (excerpt); Paul Stevens, “The Pre-Secular Politics of Paradise
Lost” (CCPL)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) II

M Apr 12 — King Lear (complete)

W Apr 14 — King Lear, the sources of King Lear (Signet, 190-211)

M Apr 19 — King Lear

F Apr 23 — Deadline for optional Milton essay draft, email by 10:00 pm

M Apr 26 — King Lear, in Signet edition, Maynard Mack, from King Lear in Our Time,” and
Linda Bamber, “The Woman Reader in King Lear”


W Apr 28 — King Lear, in Signet edition, A.C. Bradley, from Shakespearean Tragedy

F Apr 30 — Milton essay (4000-5000 words);

M May 3 — The Winter’s Tale (complete); The source of The Winter’s Tale (Signet, 155-77)

W May 5 — The Winter’s Tale, Reading TBA

M, May 10—The Winter’s Tale

Final Exam: Monday, May 17, 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.