Department of English

James B Ayres

Professor EmeritusPh.D., 1964, Ohio State University

Shakespeare at Winedale Regents Professor and University Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus


James B. Ayres received his Ph.d., from Ohio State University in 1964 and went on to teach in the English Department at UT Austin from then until 2001, when he became a Professor Emeritus.  He has taught as a Visiting Professor at the University of London Royal Holloway, the University of Valencia, and in UT Austin's Oxford Summer Program.  His many awards incude being inducted into the Academy of Distunguished Teachers, the Liberal Arts Council Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Harry Ransom Award for Teaching Excellence.  He is the founding director of the Shakespeare at Winedale Program and has produced dozens of plays for the program.


E 321 • Shakespeare: Selected Plays

34652 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 301

E. 321(34652): Shakespeare. Comedies and Romances   

Spring ’10. TTh 2-3:30 p.m.  PAR 301
Instructor:Jim Ayres, Professor Emeritus, English. CAL 20 
Conference hours: TTh 10:30-12:00.
Prerequisite: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing


S. Greenblatt (ed.) Norton Shakespeare: Comedies.
                            Norton Shakespeare: Romances and Poems.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Love’s Labor’s Lost
As You Like It
The Merchant of Venice
Twelfth Night
The Winter’s Tale
The Tempest


An appropriate sub-title for the course might be “Let wonder seem familiar” (Ado, 5.4.70), for Sh’s comedies and romances take us on journeys through strange, marvelous, “topsy-turvy” worlds where fools are wise, gods are frequent visitors, language is playful, magic and visions are fairly common, and lovers never seem to have an easy time. The plays do indeed challenge, disturb, and dislocate, ask us to look at things in a different way, questioning conventional assumptions which legitimate patriarchy and sexual stereotyping, disturbing even the stability of words through dialectics which explore alternative possibilities of living and thinking.


I expect students to have read in entirety (unless otherwise notes on the assignment schedule) the plays by the dates assigned on the attached assignment sheet. I will periodically give brief quizzes to check on reading requirements.  And I expect students to re-read the plays for all sessions dedicated to those plays. The “position papers,” of course will require that. Students who have difficulty with critical (analytical) reading of the texts should schedule conferences with me.

Note:  We will not discuss As You Like It in class, although perhaps refer to it obliquely.  Students should read and re-read AYL in preparation for the final exam.  AYL is required reading. 


      ¤ Required: 

           Five (5) brief (2-3 pp) “position papers.”

      ¤ Optional:

          Extra “position papers.”  Revisions of papers.

      ¤ Reports:

          Periodically, I will invite group reports on topics in the plays.  Students will prepare for those through in-class discussions.  As well, I will invite individual students to present reports to the class. These performances enhance understanding as well as grade.


Students will be required to view film interpretations of Twelfth Night, either one directed by Trevor Nunn or one directed by Kenneth Branagh, write papers on the filmic interpretation of the text and give in-class reports on observations.


One mid-term examination.  Final Examination: May 15, 9:00-12:00.


Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.


I do not average grades.  I do not “curve” grades. I value improvement in every phase of the course: in reading, writing, discussion.  I do assign plusses (+) and minuses (-) to work during the term.  I will not assign a plus or minus final grade.

         Class participation ………….. 20%
         Papers …………………………….. 40%
         Hour exam………………………. 15%
         Final exam……………………….. 25%

For more information, please download the full syllabus.

Curriculum Vitae

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