Welcome to the Shakespeare's Early Plays at MSU WikiEdit
We will be reading early Shakespeare this semester, and we want our reactions to his plays to be part of the public record and available to English majors in the future.
So, we will create a Shakes-wiki that will outlive our class discussion but will be available for future Shakespeareans to access and build upon.
How do we talk about Shakespeare’s early work—plays such as Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar or Richard III? Some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters come from his plays before 1600. Falstaff, Shylock, Mercutio, Beatrice, and Puck all come before what many critics consider his greatest achievements—Lady Macbeth, Prince Hamlet, Othello, or Lear. Is there an important critical distinction to be made between early and late Shakespeare? Between Falstaff and Iago? Between Prince Hal and Prince Hamlet? I hope to consider Shakespeare’s early work with this question in mind. Our goal will be to examine plays from Shakespeare’s early years in light of the most important critical questions that have shaped discussion of his late masterpieces. How do his early plays deal with questions of gender, sexuality, power, and class? How can reading Shakespeare “backwards”—that is, making sense of a play like Macbeth through the lens offered us in Titus Andronicus—help us better to understand Shakespeare’s “maturity” as a playwright?