In this course, we will read works of Shakespeare from the beginning of his poetic career until the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. As we read Shakespeare's plays, we will consider how they reflect the sweeping political and social changes which England underwent in the sixteenth century: the Reformation, the centralization of the nation’s political and cultural life in the Tudor court, overseas exploration, and other developments. In our discussions, we will examine the early modern drama's treatment of the shaping of the private and public self, nation formation, the language of the body and desire, gender politics, and innovations to the English language. In this course, we will concentrate on both the development of analytical skills and of working knowledge of the social, political, and theatrical milieu in which Shakespeare wrote. Where possible, we shall make comparative analysis between Shakespeare’s texts and other mediums of artistic expression, especially filmic interpretations.