Foundations: Shakespeare | English 205, Fall 2011

Department of English  ::  Faculty of Arts  ::  University of Calgary

This is the home page of English 205 in Fall 2011. I have also written a series of blog posts on various aspects of the course design.

Instructor: Dr Michael Ullyot

Office: Social Sciences 1106

Email: ullyot[at]ucalgary[dot]ca

Twitter: @ullyot or

Office hours: By appointment (e-mail)

Description and Goals

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to William Shakespeare, and to instruct you in critical writing. We’ll focus on three plays (a tragedy, a comedy, and a romance), but we will also study the life and works of Shakespeare in a wider range of texts.

In this course you will learn the essential habits of critical reading and writing. We will pay close attention to two components of compelling arguments: asking questions, and using evidence. In take-home assignments and tutorial exercises you will read and annotate texts for their rhetorical and thematic qualities, and use this evidence in a critical argument; you will draft, discuss, organize, and revise your critical responses; you will paraphrase passages from Shakespeare in your own words, and compare them with others; you will learn how to use and cite textual evidence; and you will consider how performances of Shakespeare convey interpretations of the text, and affect our interpretations.

Lectures (on Tuesdays) will focus on interpreting the texts, including elements like genre, character, and history. Each lecture will address a few key questions about the text(s) and investigate some methods to resolve them; you will then use similar methods in your exercises and assignments. Tutorials (on Thursdays) will combine interactive discussions with a variety of reading and writing exercises.

There are nine big ideas guiding our study of these texts and writing skills. We will assess your grasp of these ideas in tutorial discussions, exercises, assignments, and the final exam.


You must use these particular editions of all four books. They should be available at the UofC Bookstore, but try to find used copies, or order the same editions with free shipping from [No, I derive no financial benefit from sending you to either site.]

The order listed here is the order in which we will read them (more or less):

  1. As You Like It, ed. Juliet Dusinberre (Arden, 2004)
  2. Hamlet, ed. Robert Miola (Norton, 2011)
  3. Cymbeline, ed. Roger Warren (Oxford, 1998)
  4. The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition (2009)


10%   Participation

7.5%  Quizzes (3)

7.5%  Tweets (6+)

25%   Assignments (A1, A2, A3)

25%   Exercises (E1, E2, E3, E4, E5)

25%   Final Exam (scheduled by Registrar)

All components are compulsory. No student can achieve a passing grade in the course without completing and submitting a minimum of three exercises, all three assignments, and the final exam.

Each component is graded out of 10 or 100 marks. Here are the percentage equivalents in the university’s official grading system.

0 + % A+ 4.0
85 ““ 89 % A 4.0
80 ““ 84 % A”“ 3.7
77 ““ 79 % B+ 3.3
74 ““ 76 % B 3.0
70 ““ 73 % B”“ 2.7
67 ““ 69 % C+ 2.3
64 ““ 66 % C 2.0
60 ““ 63 % C”“ 1.7
55 ““ 59 % D+ 1.3
50 ““ 54 % D 1.0
0 ““ 49 % F 0

Quizzes (7.5%)

There will be three quizzes, one on each of the three plays we are reading. They will ask a number of multiple-choice and/or ordering questions, to test your reading and understanding of the whole play.

For example, a multiple-choice question could ask how Celia responds to her father’s banishment of Rosalind in As You Like It, which you could answer by choosing the best answer from a list of options. An ordering question could ask you to put a list of events in the order they occur in the play. If you have read and understood the whole play, you should not find the quiz difficult.

Complete and submit each quiz on Blackboard, not in class. They will be available in Course Documents for 18 hours (6:00 a.m. to midnight) on the Monday before the first lecture on each play. The first, on As You Like It, is on Sept 19th; see the course schedule for later dates.

You must complete each quiz independently, and within 20 minutes. Once you have started, you may not pause and return to the quiz later, nor will you be able to change your submitted answers. When you finish, you will get your grade immediately.

If you miss any quiz, or fail to submit your completed quiz, there is no make-up exercise.

Tweets (7.5%)

See here for details. 

Participation (10%)

Your participation grade depends on two things: (1) your active and regular attendance at lectures and tutorials, which we will record; and (2) your informed and engaged participation in discussions in lecture, and particularly in tutorials.

That means you come to lecture and tutorial regularly, always prepared to discuss the day’s reading(s) with your peers. You have impressions and questions about the texts, and in tutorials you have questions about the material covered in lectures. When we do exercises in lecture and in tutorial, you participate actively.

Persistently silent students are often highly intelligent and perceptive, but simply prefer not to speak in class. To avoid our presuming any less of you, e-mail me or the TA regularly with your thoughts and questions about the day’s readings. (Of course, you can contact me or your TA about anything to do with the course no matter how often you speak in class or tutorial.) Don’t wait for the final week of the course, when panic about your participation grade sets in.

Exercises (25%)

See here for details.

Assignments (25%)

See here for details.

Final Exam (25%)

See here for details.


For my Laptop & Mobile Policy, and my Submission Policy, follow this link.

Academic Integrity & Principles of Conduct

See here for details.


See here for a detailed list.

Course Schedule

205 Course Schedule {PDF}