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Shakespeare A3 (Shakespeare In Context)


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Dr Gillian Woods
  • Assessment: a coursework exercise (35%) and assessed essay (65%)

Module description

In this module we introduce you to Shakespeare's plays in the context of the culture in and for which they were written. We will look at the plays through a consideration of the social, literary, publishing, economic, political and religious institutions and conventions of early modern England (c. 1585-1615), paying detailed attention to their production and performance in renaissance culture, along with a consideration of Shakespeare’s language and the status of the theatre.

Indicative syllabus

  • Reformation and recusancy
  • The world of publishing
  • The place of the stage in Renaissance London
  • Women’s agency in culture
  • The creation of 'England'
  • Popular culture
  • Laughter, humour and wit
  • Representing English history
  • The court and politics
  • The family, marriage and sexuality
  • Humanism and education
  • Elizabeth, James and the early modern understanding of kingship

We will be reading:

  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Richard II
  • Henry V, Hamlet
  • Othello and Macbeth

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will have:

  • consolidated and broadened your knowledge of Shakespeare and Renaissance culture
  • engaged critically with Renaissance literature and its cultural contexts
  • developed skills of close reading and the capacity to locate these close readings within broad historical and critical narratives.