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EN950 Shakespeare in History II

(Module not available 2013-14)

Spring Term: Friday 10-12

Professor Carol Rutter


Following the pattern of this flexible module in previous years, Shakespeare in History II will consist of a detailed study of an aspect of Shakespeare’s presence in history, in this case his presence in performance history. It will involve the practical editing of Shakespeare production histories. In 2005, as part of its public dissemination remit, the CAPITAL Centre commissioned a series of brief histories of individual Shakespeare plays as performed by the RSC between 1961 and 2005. The intention was that these histories should be made available electronically as online play guides for use by students and teachers. Drafts of these materials now exist. The practical task students on this module will undertake will be to review the existing materials for content, to supplement them as required, to bring them up to date, to edit them for style and accuracy, and to format them for electronic publication. Students will be expected to draw on additional primary and secondary sources and invited to broaden the range of productions considered beyond the RSC. The Shakespeare in Performance MA module is normally a prerequisite, since the skills learned on that module and the experience that students will have had working with performance records in the RSC archive at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust are essential preparation for Shakespeare in History II.

Two introductory sessions with experienced critics/scholars who review theatre and write performance history will theorise this genre. A full day spent in the archive at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon will familiarise students with the primary source materials they will need for their editorial work. Thereafter the module will run as closely supervised independent study. The new histories will constitute the assessment on this module, supported by a reflective essay that analyses the project and its outcomes (an equivalent of 8000 words in total). It is intended that students’ work will be published on the Internet as part of the RePerforming Performance site (, where their work as editors will be acknowledged.