Shakespeare Core Course
Year 3 Core Course (ENGL3002)
(Course Convenor: Prof. Helen Hackett)
The aim of this third-year core course is to introduce students to the study of Shakespeare at a high level. Its objectives are to cover as many plays and poems as is consistent with some depth.
The basis is weekly lectures, with associated seminars, and tutorials, throughout the year, on central plays. A small group of plays is set for special study each year. These form the basis of the autumn term seminars and are examined in a separate section on the Finals examination paper. The spring term seminars are sign-up and students on the course typically choose from a list of six or seven that are offered by staff who teach Shakespeare.
After an introductory lecture setting out the chronology and canon of Shakespeare's work, and basic textual/editorial information, lectures cover one play, or a small group of plays, in roughly chronological order. This produces a natural shape in terms of genre: up to 1600 in the autumn term, covering romantic comedies and English histories; after 1600 in the spring term, covering Roman plays and the major tragedies and romances. Some sixteen plays and the poetry are lectured on, and there are further lectures on the latest trends in Shakespearian criticism, theatrical space, and other topics relevant to the study of Shakespeare.
A basic reading list is issued at the start of the course, and lectures and seminar-leaders recommend further reading. The intention is that no major concern in the study of Shakespeare will have been neglected by the end of the course, while attention has been kept very firmly on the plays and poems.
The Final examination is an open-book paper lasting six hours; a plain copy of the Alexander edition of the complete works is provided for each candidate. The aim is to elicit the candidate's capacity to work with Shakespearian matters on the spot. There are commentary as well as essay questions on the set plays.