Final Project Guidelines


The goals of the final project are for you to explore our plays in greater detail and to exercise your skills in writing and critical analysis.  I also give you some options for exploring Shakespeare in other ways—through thinking about his work pedagogically or as a performer.

1. Build your own topic for a 6-8 page paper.  You should use something you wrote in a blog post (or even read in someone else’s blog post or comment), a topic you wrote about or explored in your Annotation, or something we discussed in class and that appears in our class notes as the starting point for your own topic. For this option, you might also consider doing another annotation on a different play and using that as your starting place for the paper.

If you choose this option, you will need to expand your original idea through the integration of further research on the topic.  This can include the use of other resources listed in the Research Review assignment (such as the OED, critical essays, and web resources) or sources that you derive from your own research.

2. Critical Pedagogy Lesson Plan. Imagine that you are an elementary school, middle-school, or high school teacher preparing to teach one of the plays from our syllabus. You want to enrich your students’ understanding of the play through the integration of a critical or historical source. In your paper, you will therefore present:

1)A narrative overview (about two pages in length) explaining why you would choose this play, what historical or critical issues you would want to highlight in your work with your students, and what your goals and outcomes would be for teaching this play.

2) A discussion and description of about 3-4 pages of the critical or historical source that you have chosen to enhance your lesson plan. You may choose a source from the bibliography in the Norton Shakespeare, a chapter from The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, or another source that you find from your research (please run the source by me, though, if you choose to find your own).

3)Finally, discuss in about 1-2 pages how you would integrate the historical materials or criticism you have chosen. How would you use and alter the materials you found in your research to make it more accessible to your students? Be sure that you are considering the age level of your students in your preparation. Try to be creative in coming up with ways to make Shakespeare accessible to your students.

I strongly recommend that you use the Folger Shakespeare Library’s K-12 teacher resources for this project.

3. Critical Essay Summary and Response. Each of our plays has a bibliography of some of the most important criticism that has been written about the play over the past 200+ years. Select one of the essays listed in the bibliography of the Norton Shakespeare for a play that interests you. Track down the essay and write a 5-7 page reaponse that does the following: 1) Summarizes the main argument(s) presented in the essay. You should also comment on whether you think this argument is strong, what you think its weaknesses are, and whether you agree with its major conclusions. Finally, in your essay, use the position(s) you analyze to develop your own argument about the play.


For this option, you will be responsible for producing a scene of about 10-15 minutes from any of the plays we have read this semester. The “scene” doesn’t need to be a section of the text that your book’s editors have chosen—you can choose whatever section of the play you like.  You should also feel free to rearrange and edit the dialogue in the scene as you like, but all of the language needs to be from Shakespeare. Make sure, too, that you are doing actual interpretations and not just different acting styles (“serious” vs. “slap-stick”; “drunk” vs. “sober”). This should be a full, “off-book” (memorized lines!) production replete with blocking, props, and even sound or visual effects (if you choose).

If you are interested in choosing this option, please let me know as soon as possible and I will make a list of interested students.

I will not grade you on your acting ability, but I will be grading you on how thoughtful your interpretations are, how successfully you convey those interpretations to your audience, and on the overall quality of the performance.

Since this is also a writing project, 30% of your grade will be based on an “Actor’s Journal” that your group will submit on the day of your performance. The journal should contain the following:

  1. A Group Vision Statement. Roughly one page of the journal should be dedicated to explaining how you came up with your interpretation. What about the language of the scene led you to the ideas you had for shaping the performance? What other performances of this scene that inspired your interpretation (I expect there to be at least one other adaptation included in your bibliography). Generally, you should justify and rationalize the choices you made in putting together your production.
  2. Individual Actor Statements. Each member of the group should also contribute roughly one page that explains the choices you made in interpreting the role you were cast. How did you arrive at the decision to portray your character in the way that you did? What insights did you gain about this character from your reading of the play? Point to particular lines that you felt gave you a good understanding of the character (even if they are not in the scene that you performed)? How did you carry that understanding into this scene?
  3. Reflection Statement. Finally, your group should include roughly ½ page that explores further possibilities for your interpretation of this scene. If you were to produce an entire version of the play you chose, what would it look like? How would you use the insights of your interpretation to build a complete production of this play?