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Syllabus


IMAGE:  Ralph LernerNo surprises here. "The syllabus is simple," Ralph Lerner announces. "All we're reading is Macbeth and Richard III. The title is grander than the performance." Lerner and Nathan Tarcov, with whom he's team teaching Shakespeare on Tyranny, have a decided preference in texts. "We have an edition," says Lerner, holding up a yellow-and-red paperback. "It's this one. Get this one." Tarcov elaborates, "Reading a Shakespeare play in the Arden edition is really a different experience-you learn the play in a different way." The Arden Shakespeare-in which Macbeth is edited by Kenneth Muir and and King Richard III by Antony Hammond-offers appendices of commentary and voluminous footnotes (a page with five lines of the Bard to 90 lines of enlightening notes is not uncommon).

IMAGE:  Nathan Tarcov

There are two optional movie nights. The Macbeth night begins with Piper Laurie as Lady Macbeth (1981) then switches in mid-play to the Ian McKellen-Judi Dench version (1979). A Richard III smorgasbord includes Olivier's and McKellen's deliveries of Richard's opening soliloquy ("Now is the winter of our discontent…") as a prelude to the 1983 BBC production.

No tests take up class time. Undergrads have two writing assignments: one paper of no more than 1,500 words and another, a month later, of no more than 2,500 words on topics suggested or approved by the instructors. Among the suggested topics for the first are: "How do you understand the supernatural appearance in Macbeth? Are evil and tyranny something natural or supernatural?" Grad students first propose topics and then write papers (no more than 4,000 words), due at quarter's end.
- M.R.Y.



  FEBRUARY 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 3


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