Theater Arts 163A

Hamlet Conundrums

Course Organization



Course Discussion:  There are 10 topics related to Hamlet for consideration in this course.  The topics correspond to the menu items on the left side of the course website - -  The list is as follows:


Enter Ghost

Oh Vengeance!

Poison in Jest

Women in Hamlet
Hamlet on the Couch

On Melancholy

Does Hamlet Delay?

Dr. Freud’s Hamlet

Two Legal Issues

Ophelia’s Burial

Fortinbras’ Claim

On Good and Evil


These topics will be studied at the rate of one per week, with the exception of the two legal issues (Ophelia’s Burial and Fortinbras’ Claim) that will be grouped together into one week’s discussion.


There is also a list of secondary readings that should accompany each week’s topic. These readings are available at the Bay Tree Bookstore - many of them in a two-volume reader. In addition, some of the required readings for the course are available online. The books available at the bookstore are as follows:

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Bedford/ Saint Martin's Press

John Dover Wilson, What Happens in Hamlet, Cambridge University Press
Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Riverhead Books
A. C. Bradley,Shakespearean Tragedy,Penguin Group (USA)

Ernest Jones, Hamlet and Oedipus, W. W. Norton
A Course Reader, Volumes 1 and 2

There are also two recommended books available at the Bay Tree Bookstore that will figure in our class discussion. These are:

Harold Bloom, Hamlet:Poem Unlimited, Riverhead Books
Aeschylus, Oresteia, University of Chicago Press


You are asked to fully explore the class website section for the particular topic each week, as well as to do the reading associated with each topic. 


There will be a quick quiz on each weekly topic, given in class at the beginning of our discussion of that topic. These quizzes will be taken into consideration in determining your grade for the Hamlet class.


Course Paper or Projects:  You are expected to write a course paper on a topic given out in the first weeks of the class, and also found on the Hamlet Conundrums site. (Click on "assignments" in the menu bar.)  This paper will count for half of your final grade in the class, and I urge you to start early in preparing it. The paper is due in class on November 21st, and late papers will not be accepted. It is recommended that you discuss your approach to the paper with Professor Bierman at a time when your ideas for it are forming.


Evaluation:  Grading (for those of you who opt for it) and evaluations will be done on the following basis:  Half the grade will be based on your course paper.  The other half will be based on your 9 quizzes and on your participation in the class discussion. 


Elsinore:  Technical stuff.  The Hamlet Conundrums website makes use of Adobe Flash technology, and will not run on mobile devices that do not support Flash. These include Apple's iPhone, iPod, and iPad. Please contact Professor Bierman if you are having difficulties in using the site.


Contact info: James Bierman


phone: (831)459-2174