To be confirmed
This online course introduces students to a selection of Shakespeare’s plays, investigating their language and imagery in both historical and literary contexts. We’ll read the works alongside critical commentary about them, from the nit-picking to the eulogies, covering a broad range of opinions from the 18th century to today. Students will also become acquainted with the various schools of 20th century Shakespeare criticism, from ruggedly Marxist standpoints to the wilder shores of psychoanalytical speculation.
The course encourage students to develop their own opinions about the Shakespeare’s work, to be unafraid to analyse and question it, to discuss where they think it does or does not ‘work’ for them. In this way students may discover for themselves new plays, new meanings in old favourites, and new perspectives through critical opinions they relate to or disagree with. These studies will help each student to develop their own personal yet informed view on whether Shakespeare’s language, imagery and dramatic art have been over-praised since his death, or whether they agree with Ben Jonson’s declaration that Shakespeare was ‘not for an age, but for all time’.
Delivery: Distance Learning (Online)
Deadline for Registrations: 2 weeks before the start date
NB: Late entrants will be able to work through and catch up on the material they have missed - or they can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where they join the course - but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: King Richard III: Bottled Monarchs and Spiders
Week 3: King Henry IV Part 1: Corrupting Saints
Week 4: King Henry IV Part 2: The Cost of Kingship
Week 5: As You Like It: Cross Dressing and Crossed Wires
Week 6: Hamlet: Are the Critics Mad?
Week 7: Hamlet: Procrastination, Self-Consciousness and Modernity
Week 8: Measure for Measure: Generic Incoherence?
Week 9: King Lear: The World Turned Upside-Down
Week 10: King Lear: Dr Johnson’s Tears
Week 11: Macbeth: Ill Fitting Garments for a Thane
Week 12: Macbeth: The Light, the Dark and the Knocking at the Gate
Week 13: The Winter’s Tale: ‘A Woman, and Therefore Subject unto Love’
Week 14: The Tempest: Art and the Profits of Cursing
Week 15: Conclusion: Mimesis and Murder
Learning / Teaching Methods
This course is delivered via the internet using an online system called ELE: the Exeter Learning Environment. Students will be given a username and password to log in to the course. A 'unit' of course material will be released every week for students to work through and class discussions on the material will take place in the online forum.
Class discussions are asynchronous - i.e. students do not need to be online at a 'set' time - they can leave and collect messages from the online discussion environment at a time suitable for them.
A chat room facility is also available. This is entirely optional, but students can arrange a mutually convenient time to communicate with each other 'instantly', by means of this facility, if they would like more immediate contact with others studying this subject.
Throughout the course, students will be given ideas to respond to in the online discussion area; these are optional and there are no assignments in terms of essays or other marked work.
As this course is non-credit-bearing there are no exams or assessments.
This course will help students to develop:
- A knowledge and understanding of key Shakespeare plays
- A familiarity with Shakespeare’s use of imagery, language and rhetoric
- An awareness of arguments put forward by Shakespeare criticism since the 18th century
- An understanding of Renaissance genre
- An awareness of the historical and literary context of Shakespeare’s work
- Experience of close reading
- Experience of discussing the wider implications of literary texts
- Experience of discussing literary criticism