This course will give students the opportunity to do a semester long study of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, perhaps the greatest play ever written. First, we will analyze how Hamlet fits into the Elizabethan world of ideas and then into Shakespeare’s developing career as a working playwright. We will do a line by line close reading of the play, and students will do exercises involving verse scansion, paraphrase, spot passage identification and memorization of key speeches. We will familiarize ourselves with the sources of Hamlet and consider how Shakespeare revised them in forging a new aesthetic for his brand new playhouse, the Globe. We will write essays about Shakespeare’s purpose informed by an overview of the most famous critical interpretations of the play. (Coleridge, Carlyle, Schlegel, Hazlitt, Bradley, and Jones). We will study the performance history of the play and observe how interpretations of the role have been influenced by the history of ideas. Finally, we will put scenes from the play on their feet and perform them for friends and family.