Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Students will need to obtain copies of or access to the following plays: Titus Andronicus, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Richard II, The Tempest, King Lear, Hamlet, Timon of Athens, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Scholarly editions of the plays include the Arden, Oxford, Cambridge, and Macmillan/RSC editions. Scholarly Shakespeare Complete Works include the Arden edition edited by Proudfoot, Thompson and Kastan; the Oxford edition edited by Jowett, Montgomery, Taylor and Wells; and the RSC/Modern Library edition edited by Bate and Rasmussen.

Prof Jonathan Bate created the original version of this module and his Soul of the Age (2008) is a relevant secondary reading for many of the topics covered.


Tillyard, E.M.W. The Elizabethan World Picture

Greenblatt, Stephen. Shakespearean Negotiations. Chps. 1 & 2.

Presentist Shakespeares. Ed. Hugh Grady and Terence Hawkes. Chp. 2 ‘Historicizing new historicism’, and Chp. 8 ‘Hamlet and the present: Notes on the moving aesthetic ‘now’.

Week 2

Titus Andronicus

Introductory essay to the 1995 Arden edition of the play edited by Jonathan Bate, especially pages 1-36.

Week 3

Love’s Labour’s Lost

‘Love's Labour's Lost and the Renaissance Vision of Love’ by Neal L. Goldstein, Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Summer, 1974), pp. 335-350

If you are presenting on this topic, this source may be of use: Context for Love’s Labour’s Lost: the English translation of La Primaudaye’s The French Academie, available on EEBO (Early English Books Online) as either a transcription

or a pdf of the original

Week 4

Richard II

Hammer, Paul. Shakespeare’s Richard II, the Play of 7 February 1601, and the Essex Rising. Shakespeare Quarterly, 59, 1. 2008. Pp 1-35.

Bate, Jonathan. Soul of the Age. Chp. 14

If you are presenting on this topic and want to view Sir John Hayward's The First Part of the Life and Reign of King Henry IIII, it can be found here:

a transcription, or a pdf of the original

Also it may be helpful find out what you can about any one of the following:

(i) the career of the Earl of Essex

(ii) the approach to history of the Roman historian Tacitus

(iii) the cult of chivalry in late Elizabethan England

(iv) the absence of the 'deposition' scene from the First Quarto of Richard II

Week 5

The Tempest

Montaigne, Michel de. “Of the Cannibals”, “Of Cruelty”. Can be found in Michel de Montaigne. The Complete Essays, London: Penguin. 2003. Or online.

Shakespeare read Montaigne in the John Florio 1603 translation, which can be found on EEBO.

Read also relevant Montaigne passages in Bate’s Soul of the Age (look in the index).

Week 6

King Lear

Dr Johnson on Shakespeare. Ed. W. K. Wimsatt. Introduction, Prologue w/essays, Dedication, Preface, Notes on King Lear.

Week 7


Bate, Jonathan. The Romantics on Shakespeare. Read the section on Hamlet. (out of print, handout will be provided if needed)

Week 8

Timon of Athens

Handout on Shakespeare and Marx

Week 9

The Merchant of Venice

Freud, Sigmund. The Theme of the Three Caskets. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol XII. Pp 291-301.

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. (any scholarly edition). Read Chp. V, Section D Typical Dreams, β Dreams of the Death of Persons of Whom the Dreamer is Fond- from the beginning of this section until part I, after the bit on Oedipus Rex and Hamlet.

Week 10

Romeo and Juliet

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Handout on Hegel’s dialectics.