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The Tempest in Literature

ENG 414

The Tempest in Literature

  • Course ID:ENG 414
  • Semesters:1
  • Department:English
  • Teachers:Joseph Bissex

Description and Objectives

The Tempest is perhaps the greatest of Shakespeare’s plays and certainly one of the greatest English works of dramatic literature. Its imaginative, philosophical, political, historical and literary scope have inspired generations of artists. Our objective is to make an initial foray into the depths.

Topics Covered

  • Shakespeare’s Tempest as a seminal work of English literature
  • Joining the critical conversation


Full Texts

  • The Tempest, Shakespeare
  • “The Sea and the Mirror”, by W.H. Auden
  • “Caliban upon Setebos”, by Robert Browning
  • The Tempest: A Case Study in Critical Controversy, eds. Gerald Graff and James Phelan

Texts (potential/excerpts)

  • Hag-Seed, by Margaret Atwood
  • The Storm, by Frederick Buechner
  • Sycorax, by Don Nigro
  • Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G.Wells
  • Metamorphoses, by Ovid
  • The Enchanted Island, Davenant and Dryden

Course Requirements


  • Reading of class material, staying a minimum of 30 pages ahead of class discussions.
  • Active class participation and critical questioning.
  • Evidence of care in preparation for written and performance assignments
  • Above all, turn in essays early and take advantage of the rewrite option.


  • Assignments vary from quarter to quarter, but the focus will be frequent short critical essays. Students will write approximately one 2-page essay per week, with the opportunity to do one rewrite per essay to raise the grade. Each essay will be started in class for immediate feedback, and each essay will be supported by cited research done outside the classroom.


  • The exam will cover all material studied up to the review classes. Review classes will take place in the days leading up to the semester exam.

Successful Students

Successful students will be on time, with books and notes in hand, and be prepared to engage the material through active conversation.  They will display attentiveness to detail and foster habits of creative initiative and a collaborative spirit. Above all, they will turn in writing assignments early and take advantage of the rewrite option to raise their grade. Good writing is rewriting!