Sound and Fury Since Shakespeare


Fall 2013 quarter

Taught by

literature, history


Students need to have taken college-level literature, preferably literature prior to 1900; competency in expository writing, including grammar, punctuation and mechanics; and the ability to devote significant time in preparation for each scheduled hour of class.

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

For centuries, thinkers have argued over the purpose of life. Some hold that the purpose is pleasure, and others to worship God and glorify him forever. Still others believe the aim is to alleviate human suffering or to live free or even to learn to die well. Along comes Shakespeare’s Macbeth whose bleak vision says no to all such notions. We are born, we have our hour on the stage, we die: That’s the human story. Could he be right?

In this program, we will keep this disturbing question open, as we read Shakespeare’s plays alongside masterpieces of prose fiction. Our method of inquiry will be close textual analysis of how the plays and novels are put together. To this end, the program will be a seminar on the patterns made of words, the aesthetic forms writers use when they breathe life into their tales of human existence.

We will read nine plays of Shakespeare and the following novels: Melville, Moby-Dick ; Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov ; Mann, The Magic Mountain ; Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury ; and Camus, The Plague . The workload will be heavy.

This program is for the intellectually curious, diligent student eager to practice the craft of close reading. There will be weekly exams, seminar reports on the authors’ lives and times, one essay on an assigned topic and a comprehensive final exam.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

any field requiring competence in the use of language, textual evidence and interpretation, especially literature, philosophy, history, law, publishing, theatre arts and public service.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.


Date Revision
November 30th, 2012 This program will no longer be offered.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Signature Required

Students should consult with the faculty member, David Marr, about the prerequisites before registering for this program ( ).

Course Reference Number not yet available.

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