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The University of Southampton

ENGL6133 Shakespeare and his World

Module Overview

This module is about the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. It will introduce you to the world in which Shakespeare worked and in which his plays were first performed. You will study a selection of his plays and poetry, but you will consider the work of other major writers of the time, such as Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, Thomas Dekker, John Donne, Francis Bacon. The module begins in the late sixteenth century, but you will also have opportunity to explore how Shakespeare’s plays lived on in the world after his death – during the reign of Charles I, through the closure of the theatres during the civil war, into their revival in the Restoration and beyond, as well as thinking about Shakespeare in the world today. The module will enable you to explore how Shakespeare has been received and remade by different cultures at different times, and you will engage with recent critical thinking about, for example, early modern playhouses; original practice; adaptation and translation; editing and textual history; ‘Global’ Shakespeare; political Shakespeare.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • conduct independent research on a topic of your own choosing relating to the module
  • effectively present the results of your research orally and in writing
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse early modern plays and poetry
  • analyse a variety of source types (e.g. historical accounts and documents; performance records; paintings; personal accounts; theatrical reviews; performance scripts), and situate these in their appropriate historical and cultural contexts
  • analyse stage and film productions
  • evaluate critically the theoretical and methodological approaches used by scholars working on Shakespeare
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • a range of works by a key author in English literature
  • the culture in which Shakespeare lived and worked through examining a range of primary sources, including works by Shakespeare’s contemporaries
  • how Shakespeare’s plays were performed and published
  • how Shakespeare has been received in different ways at different times, through studying performance history and different editorial practices
  • recent developments in research about Shakespeare


The precise syllabus will vary from year to year, but is likely to cover some of the following: • Shakespeare’s Elizabethan and Jacobean plays • Shakespeare’s sonnets • Shakespeare and collaboration – thinking about how Shakespeare worked with, for example, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher • The writings of contemporaries such as Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, John Donne, Francis Bacon • Play-writing, production and the early modern playhouse • Relationship between plays, playwrights and the court • Textual production and the textual history of Shakespeare’s works • Production and adaptation, on stage and on screen • Reception of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in later periods and other cultures • Global and Local Shakespeares • Classical and contemporary sources for Shakespeare and his contemporaries, from Ovid to Montaigne

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• Weekly 2-hr seminars • Small group and full group discussions • Individual and group presentations • Independent study and research

Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Follow-up work10
Wider reading or practice17
Completion of assessment task50
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Books. Students would find it useful to own an edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare (Arden, Norton, Oxford, Cambridge editions are recommended). You will be required to become familiar with Early English Books Online. The module convenor will contact you with a list of essential weekly primary texts that you will need to borrow or buy, and a list of recommended secondary reading.



Oral presentation


MethodPercentage contribution
Research essay  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Research essay  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Costs for this module will not exceed £40.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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