Upper School English

The English Department offers a curriculum rich in reading, writing, and discussion, from American and world literatures to advanced topics seminars. 

Video: English at Menlo

Reading. Writing. Thinking.

Our vision of student engagement is inspired by author bell hooks, who imagines active readership as the practice of being “in dialogue with a world beyond” yourself.

Toward that end, we design our program with three core aims in mind:

  • Equipping students with the tools of analytical thinking and writing so that they can craft cogent and evidence-based arguments. Whether they’re practicing thesis and topic sentences in class, engaging in peer review sessions with the Writing Center, or publishing in LitMag , our students  learn the essential skills of authorship in order to communicate effectively about what matters most to them.
  • Exposing students to wide-ranging and relevant readings so that they can participate thoughtfully, competently, and ethically in contemporary cultural conversations and experience the wonder of literary works of art. Encountering texts from diverse perspectives and historical eras sparks artistic excitement and intellectual challenges, and we are committed to serving as thoughtful, caring guides for young readers as they journey through unfamiliar ideas and participate in hard but rewarding conversations about the human experience.
  • Making our classrooms spaces of collaborative learning so that students don’t just imbibe the key concepts of literary study; rather, they create, enact, and apply the course material in their lives. We strive always to foster invigorating and empathetic classrooms, where students feel equally cared for and inspired, where they feel safe taking intellectual risks and making mistakes, and where they celebrate the value of new perspectives and academic discovery.

We want graduates of our program to be curious, kind, and critical thinkers who use their knowledge of diverse literary perspectives and artistic creations to reflect upon and address the complexities of the modern world.

Upper School English Course Offerings

Grade: 1112

5 Months, 4 Books 2S (2S)

Calling all bookworms! This course is designed for passionate readers who seek to explore diverse genres, engage in thought-provoking discussions, and develop increasing autonomy to analyze texts. Throughout the semester, students will delve into a curated selection of classic and contemporary literature, spanning various cultures, time periods, and perspectives. Readings may include: American Dirtby Janine Cummins, All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr, The Nickel Boysby Colson Whitehead, A Prayer for Owen Meanyby John Irving, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrowby Gabrielle Zevin, The Great Aloneby Kristin Hannah, and Mad Honeyby Jodi Picoult. The emphasis is on fostering a deep appreciation for the written word while honing the skills necessary for independent literary exploration. Collaborative discussions will be a central aspect of the course, providing students with the opportunity to share their insights, challenge perspectives, and refine their communication skills. Students will be encouraged to express their understanding of literature through articulate, persuasive commentary (both written and multimedia) and creative projects, such as writing original pieces inspired by the works they read. Overall, 5 Months, 4 Books aims to foster a lifelong love of reading, enhance critical thinking skills, and encourage students to become independent, thoughtful readers.

Grade: 1112

A Literary Exploration of Delight (2S)

When we think of delight or wonder, we might think of extraordinary, “mountain top” experiences, but the truth is that peak, high intensity moments do not comprise most of our daily existence. Our lives are, in fact, made up of small moments that are easy to overlook in the business of living. By more closely noticing and savoring these moments, we can enrich our daily existence immensely. Poet W.B. Yeats wrote, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

In this class, we’ll encounter a variety of essayists, writers, philosophers and poets who celebrate the small joys and ordinary wonders of everyday life. You, the students, will build a practice of noticing and documenting your own experiences of daily delight. Over the course of the semester, you will write a series of short reflections in different genres engaging in what the poet Ross Gay calls “scrounging for delight” and honing your “delight radar.” At the end of the semester, each of you will write and present a brief talk in which you share with your audience a deep dive into something that brings delight to your life.

Grade: 1112

Argumentation and Communication (H) (2S)

From newspaper headlines to online forums, talk shows to viral videos, our world can be bitterly divided. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to engage in civil discourse. This course invites you to become effective communicators in a society filled with conflicting goals and purposes. Together, we’ll explore thorny questions: how do we recognize (and construct) effective arguments? What is the place of dialogue, debate, dissent– and listening in the midst of it all? How do we use rhetorical strategies responsibly? To help us grapple with these questions, we’ll read a variety of nonfiction arguments as well as one self-selected book per quarter. Class activities will include discussion of selected readings, games, debates, and writing workshops. We’ll sharpen our written and oral skills with extensive writing, including an editorial, a satire, a debate, and a speech. By the end of this course, students will gain a deeper appreciation for the complexity and beauty of their own voice and the voices of others.

Grade: 12

Cafe Society: Paris in the 1920s (1S)

Paris enjoyed a thriving arts and literary scene in the interwar years (1920s and 1930s), attracting many American intellectuals to live and work in the famed City of Light. Writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Langston Hughes, as well as jazz musicians and stage performers converged in Parisian cafes, bookstores, and nightclubs. In this course, we’ll read a selection of American expatriate writers associated with the “Lost Generation.” We’ll explore the vibrant intellectual and cultural scene of Paris, including artists, musicians and performers. By the time we watch Woody Allen’s comedy, Midnight in Paris, you will know enough to understand all the film’s references to the writers, artists and thinkers who left their indelible mark on this beautiful city. Our class time will be spent in discussion, exploration, collaboration and active participation. The writing you’ll be asked to do will be personal narrative, memoir, creative expression and reflection inspired by and in dialogue with the texts you’ll encounter. We’ll end the semester by hosting a cultural salon, inviting the Menlo adults of your choice to engage in substantive and sparkling conversation with all of you.

Grade: 1112

Classics of Literature (1S or 2S)

This survey course explores literature favorites, both old-school and contemporary, and is perfect for students who have always wanted to read those English class “power titles.” Books like these have gained near mythical status thanks to regular references in pop culture, creative adaptations, and the indelible mark they’ve left on generations of readers. After this class, you too will be able to say, “I’ve read that!” Discussion, synthesis with other works, and multimedia studies will form a significant portion of our time together. Written outcomes of this course include both in-class and take-home analytical essays as well as creative and personal writing. Come excited for a grab-bag of great literature! Readings may include: The Scarlet Letter, Hamlet, The Awakening, The Joy Luck Club, Invisible Man, Frankenstein,and more!

Grade: 1112

Creative Nonfiction Workshop (H) (2S)

If the thought of writing another closed-form analytical essay causes you to convulse in fear, you should probably take this class. We will spend all semester experimenting with alternative essay structures, reading, analyzing, and mimicking work by some of the great essayists of the 20th and 21st centuries. We will steal the best storytelling tricks from the fiction writer’s toolkit, and we will borrow strategies of persuasion from classical and contemporary rhetoricians. The course will be built on the workshop model, meaning that you will have to be both brave and nice: over the course of the semester, each student will courageously share his/her original work and will respectfully respond to the work of peers. Expect to be reading, writing, and critiquing constantly, but also expect to kind of sickly enjoy it.

Grade: 12

Dystopian Fiction and Film (1S)

With the re-emergence of dystopian fiction as the most popular genre for young readers, students will be exposed to dystopian classics that paved the way for more contemporary works. Students will explore the political and social climate that prompted the authors to generate their narratives as well as the current, cultural conversations that emerge from these texts. Literature selections include: “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut and George Orwell’s 1984.

In addition, students will view and analyze mise-en-scene techniques of notable dystopian films and shows, both classic and contemporary, including Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, and selected episodes of the acclaimed British television series Black Mirror. Students will generate personal and social commentaries, a presentation of a dystopian film, and a research-based, capstone paper with the working title “1984 and Today’s Society.”

Grade: 12

East Asian Pop Culture (1S)

This course aims to develop an aesthetic, historical, cultural, and philosophical understanding of various media forms in East Asian pop culture. We will study television, print media, film, and popular music in Japan, China, and South Korea. Course units will focus specifically on: (1) Japanese manga and anime & their reception in the West; (2) Chinese martial arts film; and (3) Korean dramas and popular music. We explore how these cultural products, having emerged largely through the combination of traditional and global forms of culture, have in turn profoundly affected popular culture around the globe. In addition to developing a shared scholarly vocabulary for critical discourse on film and contemporary critical theory, we will use an interdisciplinary approach to the study of culture to gain skills to speak and write with intelligence about the diverse perspectives we bring to our understanding, interpretation, and emotional response to pop culture artefacts.

Grade: 9

English 1

English 1 students will work to establish their authorial voices while focusing on both reading and writing as active processes. In the fall, students will write a variety of expository pieces in order to deepen their awareness of their own opinions and values. Students then position themselves within larger cultural dialogues as we work on academic and literary arguments based on short stories, novellas, novels, and dramatic works. This practice will deepen their ability to recognize literary devices and will refine their ability to write logically and to support claims with evidence. Finally, students end the year with a focused study of rhetoric using op-ed pieces, speeches, plays, and fiction as inspiration. Students will become familiar with the fundamentals of grammar and punctuation, which they will practice throughout the year; they will also build their vocabularies through structured weekly practice.

Grade: 10

English 2

English 2 builds upon the foundation of English 1 in writing, reading, and grammatical instruction. Students will experience enhanced independence in crafting the structure of their writing, as well as develop greater complexity, specificity, and personal voice. Developing timed writing strategies further challenges students’ reading literacy and writing fluency. English 2’s curricular focus on American Literature produces many interdisciplinary opportunities with the History Department. Students gain an appreciation of how texts relate to the world around them and to their own lives. By spring, students will more precisely analyze how meaning is cultivated in a text, develop facility with inter-textual analysis, both within and outside of the text, and identify “cultural conversations” that emerge from our readings.

Grade: 1112

Fairy Tales (2S)

“Once upon a time….” So begins perhaps the most pervasive storytelling mode in our world: that of the fairy tale. We use fairy tales as pedagogical tools for teaching values of right vs. wrong, as “means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor” (Zipes), and even as vehicles of resistance against the dragons we encounter every day. This course aims to immerse students deeply in the various modes of the great fairy tale tradition. It will ask students to engage their critical analysis skills as well as their creative writing skills. As scholars, we will interrogate western fairy tale canon in conjunction with non-western folklore and fairy tale tropes, “Disneyfication,” and the increasing ubiquity of fairy tales in contemporary pop culture. As creative writers, we will emphasize becoming “chefs” rather than “cooks,” intentionally using elements of narrative and poetic form and content to create specific effects in contemporary, creative retellings of these classic tales.

Grade: 1112

Global Mythologies (2S)

We are a species of mythmakers, and thus our societies are founded in and dependent upon shared narratives. Whether we call them myths, legends, or religions, these narratives reveal much about the human mind and our global cultural heritage. This course will provide a wide-ranging exploration of myths across time and space, from the ancient Indian Vedic texts to West African cosmologies to the stories of the Greco-Roman pantheon and Biblical accounts. Examining various traditions through a comparative lens will help us to better understand the origins of our supposedly modern cultures and provide insight into our continued reliance on shared mythological narratives.

Grade: 12

Gothic Literature (1S)

A shape of a house, arising from the mist. A figure, seen from the corner of the eye. A deep and growing sense of doom and danger. Gothic literature has been, since the eighteenth century, not only a genre of terror and place but one associated with underrepresented authors and popular culture. It is not a genre that has been left in the past, however; rather, it is one that has thrived through the nineteenth, twentieth, and now twenty-first centuries. We will delve into the origins of traditional gothic literature to explore how contemporary authors have redefined the genre. By shifting the focus from malevolent individuals to the underlying systems that allow evil to flourish, these authors have made the genre uniquely their own. Readings may include texts from writers such as Bronte, Faulkner, Moreno-Garcia, and Huang.

Grade: 101112

Humanities I: Renaissances (1S)

Why do humans often look to the past as they try to envision a better future, and what role can the arts play in driving social change? The French word “Renaissance,” or rebirth, has been used to describe this revival of art forms from older times in order to move society in a better direction. Our course begins with the Italian Renaissance of the 16thC, when artists (like Michelangelo) and thinkers (such as Machiavelli) reached back to the legacy of the Ancient Greco-Roman Classical World to develop a worldview that accommodated the growing powers of people outside the traditional power centers of the Catholic Church or traditional nobility. We then turn to the concept of Renaissance in 17thC Mughal India and Ming China (field trips to the Taj Mahal and Forbidden City, anyone?), where leaders of a different ethnicity than their citizens used the arts to consolidate their empires. The course concludes with a look at how the concept of renaissance nourished African-American artists and thinkers in the 20thC Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes is one example) and 21stC Afro-Futurism (think Black Panther) movements. Our interdisciplinary, Humanities-focused approach relies on the analysis of artistic primary sources (literature, art, music, and philosophical texts), informed by a study of their historical context. You will also produce works of art, literature or music to demonstrate your understanding of the course content.

Who is eligible to take this course for history credit? Students in Grades 10-12. Students taking this course for History credit may elect the Honors designation.

Who is eligible to take this course for English credit? Students in Grades 11-12. This course does not carry an Honors option for English credit.

Grade: 101112

Humanities II: Self-Portraits (2S)

What historical factors contributed to the birth of the self-portrait as a genre in 15thC Western Europe and its explosion in popularity in modern times? How does this trend towards elevating self-representation in the arts and media relate to our current moment, when social justice calls for visibility and representation of diverse identities? In what ways can we see the self-portrait as a form of agency and resistance?To answer these questions about the history and significance of self-representation, we first study the birth of the self-portrait during the European Renaissance. We then read Oscar Wilde’s queer landmark novel The Picture of Dorian Gray(1891) and learn about Freudian idand its influence on the Modernist self-portraits of the 20thC. The 4th quarter is devoted to British feminist Virginia Woolf’s extended essay “A Room of One’s Own” (1929) and Korean-American author Michelle Zauner’s memoir Crying in H Mart(2021). Our interdisciplinary, Humanities-focused approach relies on the analysis of artistic primary sources (literature, art, music, and philosophical texts), informed by a study of their historical context. You will also produce works of art, literature or music to demonstrate your understanding of the course content.

Who is eligible to take this course for history credit? Students in Grades 10-12. Students taking this course for History credit may elect the Honors designation.

Who is eligible to take this course for English credit? Students in Grades 11-12. This course does not carry an Honors option for English credit.

Grade: 1112

Investigations (2S)

By building a course devoted to non-fiction, I hope to both broaden and challenge your understanding of what’s happening in the world around us by exploring: Who’s writing about it, what they’re saying about it, why it’s important, and to enter into the conversations that emerge from it. First, we will explore non-fiction writing through the lens of investigative journalism, reading works on various “whistle-blower” topics, as well as viewing a “whistle-blower” film, The Insider and Frontline’s award-winning documentary League of Denial. Additionally, we will read a variety of longer social/political commentaries on relevant topics from publications including The Atlantic, Scientific American, Vanity Fair, and The Economist. As a capstone experience, you will each conduct your own in-depth investigation into a topic of your choosing. Bring your opinions!

Grade: 11

Junior English Seminar (H): Literature (1S)

Honors Literature is a survey course that is perfect for students who genuinely enjoy reading and talking about rewarding and memorable texts. This course is a great choice if you love the sustained, high-level discussion aspect of English class. Our reading of top-shelf challenging books will help you grow as a writer and thinker – be prepared for 45 minutes to an hour of reading after each class period, and come ready to share your perspectives with the class through various discussion modalities. Our reading spans genres, and includes novels, poetry, and drama. Students are expected to write independently and under timed conditions; we write frequent, short response papers of typically 1-2 pages in order to gain comfort with shorter-form writing and draw meaning from complex poems, plays, short stories, and novels that speak to the human condition. Honors Literature is ideal for students who love reading and enjoy robust discussion, literary analysis, and deep philosophical inquiry.

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Literature exam.

Grade: 11

Junior English Seminar (H): Rhetoric (1S)

This fast-paced course focuses on nonfiction writing, and students will become more proficient and comfortable both reading and producing complex pieces from a variety of fields (science, philosophy, popular culture, environmental studies, etc.) and genres (e.g. profiles, definitions, classifications, process papers). In addition to in-class timed writing, students should expect to write frequently at home, since the course intends to develop their own awareness of audience, purpose, and composition strategies. Rhetoric is also ideal for students who want to improve their reading of nonfiction texts and their ability to grapple with complex issues, both historical and contemporary.

With some independent preparation, students who take this course may feel equipped to take the AP Language exam.

Grade: 11

Junior English Seminar: Literature (1S)

In this thematic, literature-based course, students will explore the role of the rebel in society through the core textual and film selections including Ken Kesey’s counter-cultural novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestand the film The Shawshank Redemption. Via class discussion and writing, students will strive to answer the following essential questions: Why do rebels exist? What societal dynamics breed rebels? How are rebels viewed, understood, or misunderstood? Do rebels threaten the stability of society or ensure its well-being? Students will examine how societal forces at play in these works provide us with insight into the society we live in now: here at Menlo, in Silicon Valley, in America. Students will practice mining a text for meaning and significance, craft passage analysis, and practice building rhetorically effective arguments in response to the works studied. For long-term assignments, each phase of the writing process will be scaffolded in order for students to generate increasingly well-supported, complex, and concise written arguments.

Grade: 1112

Literature and Science (2S)

Science and literature have a deep and tangled history. The Roman philosopher Lucretius, for example, wrote one of the earliest scientific treatises… in verse. This seminar looks at the relationship between these two fields as it is played out in a number of different genres. We’ll read novels by writers such as Thomas Pynchon or Octavia Butler; poetry by poets like A.R. Ammons, Jorie Graham, Percy Shelley, Tommy Pico, Franny Choi & Rosalie Moffett; and creative nonfiction about fields such as chaos theory, set theory, climate science, quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology.

That’s half of the class—the reading and the content. The other half is about your writing. In addition to short response pieces and in-class presentations, there will be three major writing assignments: a poem or short story that engages in some way with science; a close reading of a work of literature; and your own piece of “pop-science” writing, on a topic of your choosing.

Grade: 12

Literature of the American Wilderness (H) (1S)

Wilderness is, actually, an American invention. It’s a construct, not a fact of nature, but one with enormous consequences for the ways in which we relate to our natural world. The ideas of wilderness and the frontier are in fact so entangled in the American identity that we still cannot relinquish the dream of them, even if the U.S Census declared the frontier “closed” 133 years ago; even if less than 3% of the land in the contiguous United States is today considered “wilderness” at all. In this course, we will use literature to explore America’s relationship with its own geography—how that relationship has changed and how it hasn’t—from the biblical ideas that informed our nation’s founding to the rise of a worldview that could possibly condone something like ecoterrorism. Through an interdisciplinary lens that combines literature, art, history, science and ethics, we will explore the reactions that wilderness has historically elicited, our options for responding to it today, and our own relationships with our uniquely Western environment.

This class is part of the Climate Concentration and counts toward the program’s requirement.

Grade: 1112

Magical Realism and Horror (2S)

From the genres of magical realism to cosmic horror, humans have often felt compelled to say, “but what if the things that scare us in the dark are actually real?” In this course, we will be examining some of the ways in which writers have used fantastical elements from their traditions in storytelling to both respond to colonialism and work to preserve indigenous and diasporic cultures. Texts may include authors such as Cañas, Khaw, Roanhorse, and Jemisin.

Grade: 1112

Media and Cultural Studies (H) (2S)

In this composition-heavy course, students will develop a sophisticated understanding of the symbolic language of our media-saturated environment and their place in it. Media Semiotics aims to answer questions such as: How does the interplay between our curated online personas and non-digital lived experiences form or displace our ‘authentic’ identities? How do video/board games’ narratives and world-building impact player perceptions of reality and morality? In what ways do consumer spaces, like REI or Lululemon or even Trader Joe’s, both attract and create their own ideal consumers? Through various written and multimedia projects (including timed writes, podcasts, and video essays) students will apply theoretical frameworks (semiotics, postmodernism, postcolonialism) to interactions between media narratives and societal paradigms. Our core texts come from culture studies critics and authors such as Viet Thanh Nguyen, Malcom Gladwell, Maya Phillips, Neal Gabler, Michael Pollan, Avery Trufelman, Roxane Gay, and Emily Nussbaum.

Grade: 12

Medicine and Narrative (1S)

When it comes to the human body, scientific knowledge and narrative knowledge are seemingly at odds. The former demands dispassionate, objective observation; the latter invests our genome with the DNA of imaginative literature: symbol, image, metaphor. Yet clinical medicine cannot be practiced without a narrative patient history, and medical knowledge seems to strive for the archetypal shape of narrative: the medical crisis is a narrative “climax” of sorts that must be “resolved” by a cure. This course invites you to discover new ways of thinking about the relation between medicine and the humanities through close readings of memoir, fiction, poetry, and essays, as well as medical and scientific treatises. Units on bioethics, embodiment, pain, pathography, pandemics, and immunology will prepare you to fashion original theories of narrative and healing at the vanguard of this interdisciplinary field. This seminar is designed equally for STEM students who are interested in healthcare and for humanities students interested in themes of malady, body, and identity.

Grade: 12

Modernist Poetry Workshop (H) (1S)

The first decades of the twentieth century represented a major inflection point in world history, as the comfortable traditions of previous centuries crumbled in the face of accelerating social and technological change. This is the period that gave birth to the literary revolution we call Modernism, which sought radically new forms of expression in order to articulate the human experience in an increasingly inhumane and unpredictable world. Today we stand at the dawn of a similarly tumultuous new age, and this course will examine the works of the Modernist poets as inspiration for our own poetic innovation. Students will analyze a wide range of Modernist poetry and experiment with various poetic techniques as they compile a portfolio of their own verse throughout the semester.

Grade: 1112

Novella Workshop (H) (2S)

Whether you have a story idea burning in your mind or are simply drawn to fantastical worldbuilding, star-crossed characters, or diabolically ingenious plots, this class will give you a deeper understanding for narrative storytelling in a variety of genres. Even if you’ve never written something longer than a few pages, our class will help you develop the sustained attention, workshop know-how, and writerly habits-of-mind needed to author your own polished novella (≈80-120 pages) by the semester’s end. In learning the delicate balance of brevity and depth characteristic of the novella form, we will collaboratively analyze various novellas, short stories, and even films. Individually, students will conduct their own guided research and independent reading, discovering the writing styles, settings, and stories that most fill them with wonder before writing their own.

Grade: 1112

Poetry Workshop (2S)

Rip out the printed page. Riot with your words. Write the world as you wish it to be. In this workshop, we won’t just read world-changing poetry; we’ll author it. Whether you’re getting in touch with your inner poet or simply seeking new ways of communicating gracefully, this course is for you. You will train in a wide array of literary techniques that will spark your imagination and transform your language. The structure of each class meeting will vary from day to day and will include poetry critiques, surrealist games, reading discussions, collaborative writing activities, and publication workshops.

Grade: 1112

Science Fiction and the Classics (H) (2S)

Were you one of those kids who could never get enough Greek mythology? Or maybe Percy Jackson or The Hunger Games were more your jam. Are you an unabashed Trekkie and/or Star Wars fan? Perhaps you fancy yourself a connoisseur of more rarefied sci-fi from purists like Isaac Asimov (of Foundation and I, Robot fame) and Frank Herbert’s Dune. If any of these pique your curiosity, then this is the class for you! Many sci-fi stories we know and love today actually have their roots in ancient Greek and Roman literature. As we journey (or trek!) from antiquity to the present, we will trace the development of science fiction as a genre, uniting the ancient Greek and Roman worlds with the modern science-fiction universe. Reading assignments will be of three types: (1) primary ancient and pre-modern sources; (2) critical essays by pioneers in the field of self-conscious science-fiction writing; (3) modern science-fiction short stories, along with television shows and feature films. Most days will be occupied by Socratic-/seminar-style discussion of assigned readings and/or viewings, and the course will be capped by a research project in which students either analyze a science-fiction text not covered in class or write an original short story (screenplay, etc.) of their own that is informed by Classical texts and themes.

Grade: 12

Shakespeare Now (H) (1S)

Shakespeare’s contemporary (and rival playwright) Ben Jonson famously declared that Shakespeare “was not of an age but for all time!” What Jonson meant, I think, was that Shakespeare’s works transcended their particular time and space (London, 1588ish-1616ish) to grapple with more “universal” human themes, such as power, sexuality and gender dynamics, otherness and identity. But much of the best literary criticism in the last 40 years has shown that Shakespeare absolutely was “of his time.” And Shakespeare’s plays have also proved remarkably adaptable as history has marched forward. For hundreds of years his plays have been performed and transformed to suit very, very different moments in countries across the world: from pre-Civil War America to the postcolonial Caribbean, from Postwar Japan to post-9/11 England.

This course engages with four plays in four different ways: Shakespeare’s Now (Historicism, where we ask about the context in which Shakespeare actually wrote and performed); Shakespeare in History (where we look at an important adaptation of a play - say, Aimé Césaire’s “A Tempest” and decolonization); Shakespeare On screen (a film, such as Kurasawa’s Ran, a rewriting of King Lear); and Shakespeare RIGHT NOW (where we put on a play and decide how to make it relevant to 2023-24). Likely plays might include As You Like It (1599), Hamlet (1600), Othello (1603-04), Measure for Measure (1604), King Lear (1606) or The Tempest (1612).

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