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EN935 Shakespeare in History

Convenor: Dr Teresa Grant, FAB5.25

Contact: t dot grant at warwick dot ac dot uk

Autumn Term

The central purpose of this module is to encourage students to combine detailed critical response to particular Shakespearean texts with a sense of the dynamic relations between literature and history. We will look at Shakespeare's sources and how he uses them; at the historical contexts in which Shakespeare was writing that inform his plays; at how historical contexts affected the reception of Shakespeare's plays; and at the different ways in which 'history' was conceived in the early modern period and how this affected playwrighting.

The module is constructed so that we spend two weeks on each text: the first a discussion of the play and set readings and the second a workshop in which students bring material to the group for discussion. This is a research-based module which will ask you to go and find something interesting about each play to share with the class. Full guidance will be given about how to do this so it shouldn't be a daunting prospect -- this is about sharing what excites you with all of the rest of us.

We will also be going to the RSC in Stratford to watch some Shakespeare together. When we know what the RSC Winter 2022 season will include this might mean we change one of the texts below to include it.


1. Hamlet

2. Hamlet workshop

3. King Lear

4. King Lear workshop

5. Macbeth

6. Macbeth workshop

7. Antony and Cleopatra

8. Antony and Cleopatra workshop

9. The Tempest

10. The Tempest workshop

A full Talis-Aspire reading list for the module will be available shortly. You will probably wish to purchase single-volume playtexts with scholarly notes. The University has access to Drama Online which allows you electronic access to the Arden editions online, so I would recommend purchasing the Norton Critical editions which have contextual material in their appendix which will help immeasurably with this module. You can find them on the Norton website, and they are available in any good bookshop or second-hand: Hamlet; King Lear; Macbeth; Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest. However, if you already own Arden (series 3 or 4), Oxford, or New Cambridge editions (or can find cheap second-hand copies) those will be fine.





See the source image

Clio, the Muse of History

North's Plutarch, Lives of Demetrius and Antony

Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches (from Holinshed's Chronicles)