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EN3D7-30 Shakespeare: Text and Performance, Now and Then

English and Comparative Literary Studies
Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Carol Rutter
Credit value
Module duration
18 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

EN3D7-30 Shakespeare: Text and Performance, Now and Then

Module web page

Module aims
  • To survey and analyse a range of early modern plays, primarily by Shakespeare, but also by some of his most significant contemporaries
  • To study these plays in their historical context and as texts for performance, which involves reference to the original staging conventions and to modern productions. Where possible, plays are studied in performance – on stage or on the screen.
  • To consider the relationship between dramatic form, intellectual debate and cultural conditions, as reflected in the plays in question.
  • To introduce students to a number of theories of the drama, with reference to their practical application in playtexts and production.
  • To develop students’ ability to analyze dramatic texts both as literature and as texts for performance.
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Unit 1 (Weeks 1-5)
Shakespeare: Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus.
Marlowe: Tamburlaine the Great, Part One; Dr Faustus (Read the B-Text)
Lecturers and seminars range across these plays in the first five. After reading week we will be adding (in most weeks) one new play a week in the following three Units:
UNIT 2 (weeks 7-10, Autumn Term): KINDS OF HISTORY
7 - Richard II
8 - Henry IV, Part 1
9 - Antony and Cleopatra
10 - King Lear
UNIT 3 (weeks 1-4, Spring Term): COMEDIES
1 - Two Gentlemen of Verona
2 - Twelfth Night
3 - Measure for Measure
4- Troilus and Cressida
UNIT 4 (week 5, and 7-10, Spring Term): TRAGEDY TO/AND ROMANCE
5 - Othello
7 - Macbeth
8 - Coriolanus
9 - The Winter’s Tale
10 - Tempest

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Formulate their own essay titles and creative projects in a way that prepares them for the type of independent research undertaken at postgraduate level
  • Have consolidated their skills in reading narrative, poetry and drama
  • Comment illuminatingly on a passage of dramatic poetry
  • Analyse the dramatic structure, appearance and effect of a scene
  • Comment on the ideas in a play and the way they are presented
  • Know enough about Elizabethan and Jacobean conditions of performance to think about how the dramatists use the resources of the stage and how the ensemble nature of theatrical companies influenced play composition and production
  • Have sufficient experience of live and film performances of the plays to be able to talk about the impact of particular scenes today
  • Know a group of plays well enough to understand how the separate scenes and speeches of the play contribute to the whole
  • Know some plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson/Webster/Middleton so that they can address the issue of connections and dependencies between them
  • Have some critical awareness of the traditions of Shakespeare criticism
  • Use their knowledge of Shakespeare to think about problems which concern them
  • Have the chance to respond creatively to the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and to submit this response in the form of a creative project to be assessed
  • Understand how some of the major issues and themes dramatised in Shakespeare’s plays – love, war, sexuality, religion, law, civilization, race, etc – function in an early modern context while continuing to challenge readers and spectators today.
Indicative reading list

Set primary texts:

  • William Shakespeare, The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York and London: Norton and Co).
  • OR William Shakespeare, The Oxford Shakespeare, ed. Wells and Taylor (Oxford: OUP).
  • AND Christopher Marlowe, Dr Faustus and Other Plays, eds David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen (Oxford: OUP). OR Thomas Middleton, Women Beware Women and other plays, ed. Richard Dutton (Oxford: OUP)

Secondary reading
A.R. Braunmuller and Michael Hattaway, eds. The Cambridge Companion to English
Renaissance Drama (1990)
Conal Condren, David Armitage and Andrew Fitzmaurice,Shakespeare and Early Modern Political Thought (2009)
John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan, eds. A New History of Early English Drama (1997)
Margreta de Grazia and Stanley Wells (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (2001)
Ewan Fernie, Reconceiving the Renaissance (2005)
Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations (1990)
Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Renaissance Politics (2004)
R. A. Foakes, Shakespeare and Violence (2003)
Lisa Jardine, Reading Shakespeare Historically (1996)
David Scott Kastan (ed.), A Companion to Shakespeare (1999)
Frank Kermode, Shakespeare’s Language (2001)
Russ McDonald, Shakespeare and the Arts of Language (2001)
Sean McEvoy, Shakespeare: the Basics (2000)
Robert S. Miola, Shakespeare’s Reading (2000)
Catherine Richardson, Shakespeare and Material Culture (2011)
Anne Righter, Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play (1962)
Martin Wiggins, Shakespeare and the Drama of his Time (2000)

Shakespeare’s Lives (and afterlives)
Jonathan Bate, The Soul of the Age: the Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare (2009)
Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare (2005)
Germaine Greer, Shakespeare’s Wife (2008)
E. A. J. Honigmann, Shakespeare: the Lost Years (1985)
Charles Nicoll, The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street (2008)
Lois Potter, The Life of William Shakespeare: a Critical Biography (2012)
Samuel Schoenbaum, Shakespeare’s Lives (1991)
Samuel Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: a Compact Documentary Life (1992)
James Shapiro, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2006)
James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (2010)
Stanley Wells, Shakespeare: a Life in Drama (1995)
Michael Wood, In Search of Shakespeare (2005)

The early modern theatre
John Astington, Actors and Acting in Shakespeare’s Time: the Art of Stage Playing (2010)
Pamela Allen Brown and Peter Parolin eds., Women Players in England, 1500-1660 (2005)
Janette Dillon, Theatre, Court and City, 1595-1610: Drama and Social Space in London (2000)
R. A. Foakes, ‘Playhouses and Players’ (A.R. Braunmuller and Michael Hattaway, eds., The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama,1990), pp. 1-52.
Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage, 1574-1642 (2nd ed., 1980)
Andrew Gurr, Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London (1987)
Andrew Gurr, Staging in Shakespeare’s Theatre (2000)
Andrew Gurr, The Shakespeare Company, 1594-1642 (2004)
Robert I. Lublin, Costuming the Shakespearean Stage: Visual Codes of Representation in Early Modern Theatre and Culture (2011)
Jean Wilson, The Archaeology of Shakespeare (1995)

Shakespeare: text. Plays from stage to page

Douglas A. Brooks, From Playhouse to Printing House: Drama and Authorship in Early Modern England (2000)
Douglas Bruster, Drama and the Market in the Age of Shakespeare (1992)
Janet Clare, ‘Art made tongue-tied by Authority’: Elizabethan and Jacobean Dramatic Censorship (1990)
Margreta de Grazia and Peter Stallybrass, ‘The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text’ (Shakespeare Quarterly 44:3, 1993), pp.255-84.
John Jowett, Shakespeare and Text (2007)
Zachary Lesser, Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication (2004)
Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (2003)
Andrew Murphy, A Concise Companion to Shakespeare and the Text (2007)
A. W. Pollard, Shakespeare’s Fight with the Pirates and the Problems of the Transmission of his Texts (2nd edition, 1920)
Tiffany Stern, Making Shakespeare: From Stage to Page (2004)
Robert Weimann, Shakespeare and the Power of Performance: Stage and Page in the
Elizabethan Theatre (2008)

Adaptation and appropriation

Kate Chedgzoy, Shakespeare’s Queer Children: Sexual Politics and Contemporary Culture
Sarah Hatchuel, Shakespeare, from Stage to Screen (2004)
Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Adaptation (2006)
Margaret Jane Kidnie, Shakespeare and the Problem of Adaptation (2008)
L. Monique Pittman, Authorizing Shakespeare on Film and Television: Gender, Class and Ethnicity in Adaptation (2011)
Julie Sanders, Adaptation and Appropriation (2005)
Julie Sanders, Novel Shakespeares (2001)
Robert Sawyer and Christy Desmet, Shakespeare and Appropriation (1999)
Robert Shaughnessy ed., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture (2007)


Roberta Barker, Early Modern Tragedy, Gender and Performance, 1980-2000 (2007)
Douglas Brode, Shakespeare in the Movies: From the Silent Era to Shakespeare in Love (2000)
John Russell Brown, William Shakespeare: Writing for Performance (1996)
John Russell Brown, Studying Shakespeare in Performance (2011)
Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare at the Cineplex: the Kenneth Branagh Era (2003)
Alan C. Dessen, Elizabethan Stage Directions and Modern Interpreters (1984)
Michael Dobson ed., Performing Shakespeare’s Tragedies Today: the Actor’s Perspective (2006)
Diana E. Henderson, A Concise Companion to Shakespeare on Screen (2006)
Peter Holland (ed.), Shakespeare, Memory and Performance (2006)
Russell Jackson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film (2000)
David Scott Kastan and Peter Stallybrass, eds. Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (1992)
K.S. Rothwell, A History of Shakespeare on Screen (1999)
Robert Shaughnessy ed., New Casebooks: Shakespeare on Film (1998)
Robert Shaughnessy and Michael Bristol eds., New Casebooks: Shakespeare in Performance (2000)
Robert Weimann, Author's Pen And Actor's Voice (2000)
Stanley Wells and Sarah Stanton eds., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage (2002)
James Michael Welsh, Shakespeare into Film (2002)
William B. Worthen and Barbara Hodgdon eds., A Companion to Shakespeare and
Performance (2005)
Ramona Wray and Mark Thornton Burnett, Screening Shakespeare in the Twenty-first
Century (2006)

Genre and Genres

Catherine M. S. Alexander, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Last Plays (2009)
C. L. Barber, Shakespeare's Festive Comedy (1959)
Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspective: the Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance (1965)
Penny Gay, The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s Comedies (2008)
Michael Hattaway ed., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s History Plays (2002) Barbara Hodgdon, The End Crowns All: Closure and Contradiction in Shakespeare's History (1991)
Jean E. Howard and Phyllis Rackin, Engendering a Nation: a Feminist Account of
Shakespeare's English Histories (1997)
Coppélia Kahn, Roman Shakespeare (1997)
Alexander Leggatt, Shakespeare's Comedy of Love (1974)
Alexander Leggatt, Introduction to English Renaissance Comedy (1999)
Alexander Leggatt ed., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearian Comedy (2002)
Clare McEachern ed., The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy (2002)
Gordon McMullan, The Politics of Tragicomedy: Shakespeare and After (1991)
R. W. Maslen, Shakespeare and Comedy (2005)
Robert S. Miola, Shakespeare and Classical Tragedy: The Influence of Seneca
Simon Palfrey, Late Shakespeare: A New World of Words (1997)
Leonard Tennenhouse, Power on Display: the Politics of Shakespeare's Genres (1986)

Gender in Shakespeare’s England and on Shakespeare’s Stage

Mark Breitenberg, Anxious Masculinity in Early Modern England (1996)
Dympna Callaghan, Shakespeare without Women: Representing Gender and Race on the Renaissance Stage (2000)
Dympna Callaghan ed., A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare (2000)
Amanda Capern, The Historical Study of Women: England, 1500-1700 (2008)
Kate Chegdzoy ed., New Casebooks: Shakespeare, Feminism and Gender (2001)
Will Fisher, ‘The Renaissance Beard: Masculinity in Early Modern England’ (Renaissance Quarterly, March 2001)
Anthony Fletcher, Gender, Sex and Subordination in England 1500 -1800 (1995)
Lisa Jardine, Still harping on daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare (1983)
Coppélia Kahn, Man's Estate: Masculinity Identity in Shakespeare (1981)
Laura Levine, Men in Women’s Clothing: Antitheatricality and Effeminization, 1579-1642 (1994)
Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford, Women in Early Modern England (1998)
Stephen Orgel, Impersonations: the Performance of Gender in Shakespeare's England (1996)
Phyllis Rackin, Shakespeare and Women (2005)
Michael Shapiro, Gender in Play on the Shakespearean Stage: Boy Heroines and Female Pages (1994)
Alexandra Shepard, Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England (2003)
Bruce R. Smith, Shakespeare and Masculinity (2000)
Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 (1977)

Early modern sexualities
Catherine M. A. Alexander and Stanley Wells, Shakespeare and Sexuality (2001)
Rebecca Ann Bach, Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature before Heterosexuality
Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England (1995)
Jonathan Goldberg, Sodometries: Renaissance Texts, Modern Sexualities (1992)
Jean E. Howard, ‘Crossdressing, the theatre and gender struggle in early modern England’ (Shakespeare Quarterly, Winter 1988)
Bruce Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England (1991)
Valerie Traub, The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England (2002)
Stanley Wells, Shakespeare, Sex and Love (2010)

Race and postcolonialism

Catherine M.S. Alexander and Stanley Wells, eds. Shakespeare and Race (2000)
Geraldo U. de Sousa, Shakespeare's Cross-Cultural Encounters (2nd ed., 2002)
Stephen Greenblatt, Learning to Curse (1992)
Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin (eds.), Postcolonial Shakespeare (1998)
Ania Loomba, Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama (1992)
Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race and Colonialism (2002)
James Shapiro, Shakespeare and the Jews (1997)
Martin D. Yaffe, Shylock and the Jewish Question (1997)


Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield, Political Shakespeare (1985)
Jonathan Gil Harris, Shakespeare and Literary Theory (2010)
David Scott Kastan, Shakespeare after Theory (1999)
Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman (eds.), Shakespeare and the Question of Theory
Alan Sinfield, Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading

Subject specific skills

No subject specific skills defined for this module.

Transferable skills

No transferable skills defined for this module.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 36 sessions of 1 hour (12%)
Seminars 18 sessions of 2 hours (12%)
Private study 228 hours (76%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Reading & research


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Close reading exercise 40%
Essay OR Creative Project + Reflective Essay 60%

5000-word essay OR Creative Project plus a 2000-2500 word reflective essay

Feedback on assessment

Written Feedback


This module is Core for:

  • Year 3 of UTHA-QW34 Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies
  • Year 4 of UENA-QW35 Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies with Intercalated Year

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 3 of UENA-QP36 Undergraduate English Literature and Creative Writing
  • Year 4 of UENA-QP37 Undergraduate English Literature and Creative Writing with Intercalated Year
  • Year 4 of UFIA-QW25 Undergraduate Film and Literature
  • Year 4 of UFIA-QW26 Undergraduate Film and Literature (with Study Abroad)

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 4 of UPHA-VQ73 Undergraduate Philosophy and Literature with Intercalated Year