On this module you will study and compare plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. We will deploy concepts from anthropology such as 'rites of passage’ and ’social death', and think about the social processes at the core of all our lives. So, for example, we might compare Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and Fletcher's sequel, The Tamer Tamed, as plays about courtship and marriage, and about performing gender; Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and Hamlet as plays about death and mourning; Shakespeare's Macbeth and Rowley, Dekker and Ford’s The Witch of Edmonton as plays about diabolical temptation. Other plays that may feature include Shakespeare's King Lear and A Winter’s Tale, Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, Middleton's The Changeling. We will attend one London performance per semester of one of the set texts, where possible. The regular teaching, after a two-week introduction each semester, will consist of three-week blocks each comparing two plays. The first two weeks will mix lecture-style delivery and class discussion. For the third week, you will work together in groups to prepare a seminar. ESH6022 is the full-year version of the module, requiring one major essay at the end of the year. You can opt to take just the first semester (ESH6023), or just the second semester (ESH6024), or both single-semester versions, ESH6023 and ESH6024, in one year (if you prefer to write a shorter essay at the end of each semester rather than one major essay at the end of the year).
For the beginning of semester one, week one, please read Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus and Hamlet. You should also view the 7-minute videocast
introducing the module, when you gain access to the module's QMPlus
For the beginning of semester two, please read Shakespeare, King Lear and Sackville and Norton, Gorboduc at http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/gorboduc.html
The normal intention on this module is to attend one London performance of one of the set texts per semester. However, in 2020-21 it is likely that all theatres will remain closed in semester 1, and very possibly in semester 2. In that case, the convenor will seek opportunities for students to watch at least one filmed production per semester. If it does become possible to attend live theatre in semester 2, the tickets will be subsidised but you should budget for c£20 per performance and travel on the tube in zone 1 or 2. For all Shakespeare plays you can use your copy of the Norton Shakespeare, which you should have acquired for ESH101 in the first year. If you did not take that module budget for c.£35. for a Norton. For semester one, you will need 3 further non-Shakespeare primary texts, and for semester two, another three non-Shakespeare primary texts (1 is freely available online). If you buy these new in recommended editions they may cost up to £30 for semester one, and £30 for semester two. But these costs can be often be reduced by purchasing items second-hand or borrowing them from the Library (where there will be multiple copies in some cases).