Shakespeare Commentaries

Home | Questions | Commentaries | Guides | Links | OLLI

* = substantively updated and adapted to Norton 3rd ed.
† = pg. #s and quotes updated to 3rd ed.

OLLI Summer 2024 Syllabus Tuesdays at Aliante Library

Home | Questions | Commentaries | Guides | Links | OLLI

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.

OLLI Summer 2024 Syllabus Wednesdays at Maryland Pkwy

Home | Questions | Commentaries | Guides | Links | OLLI

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

Time: Summer 2024. Wed. 11:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. (May 29 – July 17.)
Location: Maryland Pkwy campus, 4350 S. Maryland Pkwy. 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 29    Intro to Shakespeare.

Week 2     June 05    Richard the Third, Acts 1-3.

Week 3     June 12    Richard the Third, Acts 4-5.

Week 4     June 19    No class today since it’s the Juneteenth Holiday.

Week 5     June 26    The Merchant of Venice, Acts 1-3.   

Week 6     July 03     The Merchant of Venice, Acts 4-5.

Week 7     July 10     Othello, Acts 1-3.

Week 8     July 17     Othello, Acts 4-5 and course retrospective.

My OLLI Courses at UNLV

Home | Questions | Commentaries | Guides | Links | OLLI

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

Shakespeare’s Romance Plays: a Selection

Pericles Questions | Pericles Commentary
Winter’s Tale Questions | Winter’s Tale Commentary
Tempest Questions | Tempest Commentary

Links Index (Folio facsimiles, language resources, links collections, Shakespeare’s source materials, etc.)

OLLI Spring 2024 Syllabus

Home | Questions | Commentaries | Guides | Links | OLLI

Course Title: Shakespeare’s Romance Plays: a Selection

Time: Spring 2024. Wed. 9:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Location: 4350 S. Maryland Pkwy. Maryland Admin. Bldg. (MAB) 2.
Instructor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D.
Email: ajdrake@ajdrake.com
Instructor’s Shakespeare Web: www.limbsofalarbus.com

Instructor’s Materials Specific to This Class

Pericles Questions | Pericles Commentary
Winter’s Tale Questions| Winter’s Tale Commentary
Tempest Questions | Tempest Commentary
Intro – Life & Times | Intro – Lang. & Art, Pt. 1
Intro – Lang & Art, Pt. 2 (Blank Verse)

Recommended Texts

Greenblatt, Stephen et al., eds. The Norton Shakespeare: Romances and Poems. Third edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0393938623. Or, you may prefer to buy the full set: Greenblatt, Stephen et al., eds. The Norton Shakespeare. 4-vol. bundle. Third edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2015. 978-0393265460. (Includes all of Shakespeare’s plays.)

Possible Alternative Choices: The Arden Shakespeare and Folger Shakespeare Library paperback editions of Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest are relatively inexpensive and offer good notes. The Folger Shakespeare Library offers e-texts at the following addresses (these contain no notes, but the texts are excellent):

Folger Shakespeare Online Text of Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Folger Shakespeare Online Text of The Winter’s Tale
Folger Shakespeare Online Text of The Tempest
Shakespeare’s Words — a Dictionary (David & Ben Crystal)

Course Overview: We will cover several of the brilliant, bittersweet romance plays that Shakespeare created towards the latter part of his career. We will explore the thesis that these plays—strangely suspended as they are between sunny comedy and bleak tragedy and despite their fantastical plots and unlikely settings—may yet hew closer to “real life” than many of Shakespeare’s other dramas.

Schedule (Subject to change)

Week 1     Feb. 14    Intro to Shakespeare and to the romance genre.

Week 2     Feb. 21    Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Intro and Acts 1-2. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week 3     Feb. 28    Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Acts 3-5. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week 4     Mar. 06    The Winter’s Tale. Intro and Act 1. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week –     Mar. 13  Spring Break. No classes from March 11-18.   

Week 5     Mar. 20   The Winter’s Tale. Acts 2-3. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week 6     Mar. 27   The Winter’s Tale. Acts 4-5. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week 7     Apr. 03    The Tempest. Intro and Act 1. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week 8     Apr. 10    The Tempest. Acts 2-3. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week 9     Apr. 17    The Tempest. Acts 4-5. (Commentary) (Questions)

Week 10   Apr. 24    The dark backward and abysm: a retrospective session.