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EN2L9/EN3E1 Othello - 15 CATS

Convenor: Professor Carol Chillington Rutter



Taught by one weekly 2 hour seminar.

Module aims:
This option offers the opportunity to study one of Shakespeare’s earliest Jacobean tragedies in depth and from a number of discursive points of view: as a failed domestic comedy; a study of male heroism and male anxiety; an analysis of gender identity, stereotyping, contestation and subversion; a divorce tract; an analysis of ‘race’. Interested in the Jacobean Othello, the module begins by looking at Shakespeare’s source in Giraldo Cinthio then at a map, to plot the play’s geographic co-ordinates in locations burdened with contemporary significance. From there it develops a notion of narrative – the traveller’s tale, the personal history, the cultural documentary, slander, gossip. An extensive portfolio of secondary reading supports each week's intensive investigation of areas of the playtext. The module is interested in performance, in the ‘original’ Othello on Shakespeare’s stage and in subsequent performances on stage and film. It is also interested in working practically on the text in rehearsal conditions. (So students will be expected to come to seminars prepared to put text on its feet. This, however, should not be seen as in any way requiring students to 'perform'; rather, to investigate language as action and scenes as 'shows'.) Students will spend a full day working with theatre records/archival materials at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust thinking about how to write performance studies.

Learning Outcomes: Students will develop skills in close reading of the Othello text historically against a number of contemporary interests. The module introduces students to the Shakespeare archives and develops projects to use them. Taught using the pedagogic practices developed at the CAPITAL (now IATL) Centre, it will offer students the benefits of open-space learning.

Method of Assessment:

Intermediate years EN2L9 - Commonplace Book and 2,500 word essay.

Finalists EN3E1 - Commonplace Book and 3,500 word essay.