ENG 523

Renaissance Drama – Shakespeare’s Language

Jeff Dolven

A survey of Shakespeare’s linguistic resources, from several standpoints: the history of the language, the art of rhetoric, problems of attribution (including the potentials of computational stylometrics), and poetics. Over the course of the semester we study six plays, including Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, and The Winter’s Tale. There are weekly exercises in stylistic description and imitation. Our questions: how does Shakespeare sound like himself? (Does he sound like himself?) How does he sound like others, like his age, like his readers? And his characters – can we ask the same questions of them?