Rethinking Shakespeare

Rethinking Shakespeare: Beyond the Bard

Academic Coordinator: Dr Victoria Sparey

This module aims to explore the processes by which Shakespeare’s plays came into existence, how they achieved their unique status in English literature and culture, and how the image of the genius ‘Bard’ problematizes understandings of Shakespeare’s plays as part of Shakespeare’s own world and our own.  Following commemorative celebrations of last year's 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the module will include examining issues that surround memorializing the dead, both in Shakespeare’s own time and our own.

The module focuses its attention upon A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and The Tempest. Through a combination of play-specific classes, performance workshops, and classes dedicated to the details of historical context students will examine:

  • the contexts of the plays’ initial production and reception
  • the implications of Shakespearean and modern performance practices in understanding Shakespeare’s plays
  • myths that have become associated with Shakespeare , the origin of such myths and their influence over contemporary engagements with Shakespeare’s plays

Guided by experts from Exeter University’s English and Drama Departments, students will encounter the nuances and richness available within the field of Shakespeare Studies, which a static image of the isolated Bard simply does not allow.

The course includes going to see a play at the world famous Globe Theatre in London which will help you put performance theory into practice.

Key Texts

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Shakespeare, Hamlet