Level of study Second Year
Credit value 20
Semester 1, repeated 2
Pre-requisite modules You must have completed at least one year of appropriate study in this discipline.
This module examines five plays, drawn from different periods in Shakespeare’s career and representing a variety of genres. The selection typically includes: Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra.
The course places Shakespeare firmly in his theatrical context: we explore not only his use of language but also his use of dramatic structure and conventions, and how he persistently revisits key themes. Topics include: usage of verse, prose and song, the sonnet form, chains of imagery, parallel plots, dual worlds, disguise, the clown/fool, and themes of love, madness, sibling rivalry and gender. Throughout, we consider the effect of Early Modern theatre performance conditions (such as the thrust stage, all-male troupes, and open-air playing) on the shaping of the plays.
DVD extracts are used to demonstrate the range of interpretative possibilities and the performance aspects of the texts. The course includes two optional full-play DVD showings outside class time and, where possible, a trip to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform in Stratford.
Please note you will be required to read all five plays in full.
A mixture of lecturing, small-group work and full-class discussion, supplemented by DVD clips.
Assessed by a 3,000 word essay.