OLLI Summer 2024 Syllabus Tuesdays at Aliante Library

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Course Title: Shakespeare’s Outsiders:
Richard the Third, The Merchant of Venice, Othello

Time: Summer 2024. Tues. 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (May 28 – July 16.)
Location: Aliante Library, 2400 Deer Springs Way,
North Las Vegas, NV 89084. Room TBD.
Instructor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D.
Email: ajdrake@ajdrake.com
Instructor’s Shakespeare Web: www.limbsofalarbus.com

Materials Specific to This Class

New versions of questions/commentaries will be available before course begins….

Richard the Third Questions | Richard the Third Commentary
Merchant of Venice Questions| Merchant of Venice Commentary
Othello Questions | Othello Commentary

Introduction to Shakespeare’s Life & Times (Drake)
Intro. to Shakespeare’s Language & Art, Pt. 1 (Drake)
Intro. to Shakespeare’s Language & Art, Pt. 2 (Drake)

Recommended Texts

Shakespeare, William. Richard III. Eds. Barbara A Mowat et al. Folger Shakespeare Library. New York & London: Simon & Schuster, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-1476786926.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. Eds. Barbara A. Mowat et al. Folger Shakespeare Library. New York & London: Simon & Schuster, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-0743477567.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Eds. Barbara A Mowat et al. Folger Shakespeare Library. New York & London: Simon & Schuster, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1501146299.

You may prefer the Norton genre set: Greenblatt, Stephen et al., eds. The Norton Shakespeare. 4-vol. bundle. Third edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2015. 978-0393265460. (Used editions are sometimes available for $60-$70 online. New, the set costs about $120.)

Possible Alternative Choices: Arden Shakespeare paperback editions are relatively inexpensive and offer good notes. The Folger Shakespeare Library offers e-texts from the following addresses (no notes, but the texts are excellent):

Folger Shakespeare Online Text of Richard the Third
Folger Shakespeare Online Text of The Merchant of Venice
Folger Shakespeare Online Text of Othello
Shakespeare’s Words: A Dictionary (David & Ben Crystal)

Course Overview: We will cover three plays that represent characters audiences may view as “outsiders” to their respective societies. Richard III, Shylock, and Othello clearly belong in this category—Richard is a member of the royal family, but seethes at the “fair, well-spoken” times that bar him from true belonging and advancement; Shylock is a Jewish moneylender among Christians who despise him; and Othello is a valiant “Moor” working to defend a Venetian republic alien to him in its subtle, pleasure-seeking ways. We will examine these characters most intently, but we will also consider others whose status and circumstances are in question. The “Insider/Outsider” opposition in Shakespeare’s drama repays close study for what it reveals about the plays in which it is most present.

Schedule (Subject to change)

Week 1      May 28    Intro to Shakespeare.

Week 2     June 04    Richard the Third, Acts 1-3.

Week 3     June 11    Richard the Third, Acts 4-5.

Week 4     June 18    The Merchant of Venice, Act 1.

Week 5     June 25    The Merchant of Venice, Acts 2-3.   

Week 6     July 02     The Merchant of Venice, Acts 4-5.

Week 7     July 09     Othello, Acts 1-3.

Week 8     July 16     Othello, Acts 4-5 and course retrospective.