This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others.
In this course, Dr. Russell will guide you through the play and help you discover the profound beauty of Shakespeare. Presenting six sets of lovers, A Midsummer Night’s Dream reveals the silliness of all lovers. However, the spiritual power and wisdom of Oberon makes all go well, even as his provident guidance is tangled by his servant Puck (or Luck)!
This course on A Midsummer Night’s Dream will examine how Shakespeare used the “spirit world” in drama as a stage substitute for the great actions of God himself. This was necessary to avoid English law against overtly religious drama, but it also created delightful characters. The play is structured around six (!) different sets of romantic lovers, descending from the spiritual Oberon and Titania, down through the humans: Theseus and Hippolyta; Lysander and Hermia; Demetrius and Helena; to the union of a spirit, Titania, and a human-animal, Bottom; and finally to the fantastical Pyramus and Thisbe. This ladder of lovers and fools shows many ways that love can be distorted by sight that looks mainly to physical beauty or by our petulant wills that override reason. Yet in the end, each lover is healed or aided by Oberon’s spiritual guidance, even if that guidance is mediated by the erratic acts of Puck. Duke Theseus creates a New Law of love fitting for the Feast of St. John the Baptist (Midsummer) who announces the New law of Christ.
Week I: Act I
Week II Act II
Week III: Act III
Week IV: Act IV
Week V: Act V
Week VI: General Topics from MSND
Course materials: Any edition with Act, Scene divisions, and line numbers is fine.
Homework: Expect to spend about one and one-half hours per week outside of class on reading and notetaking. There will be weekly automated-graded quizzes available for immediate feedback, as well as two exams, one in the middle and one at the end of the course. Please come to class with thoughts and questions about what you have read.