You’re undoubtedly familiar with William Shakespeare, but how did he and other Elizabethan wordsmiths define an era and create a timepiece of this dramatic time with their works? How are Elizabethan values and stereotypes portrayed within the works of the age’s most celebrated poets, authors and playwrights? What was it like to enjoy live Elizabethan theatre? Students taking this course will be introduced to the life and work of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries through lectures, workshops, field trips and theatre visits.
Shakespeare and Elizabethan Literature is designed to help students to understand the fascinating social and historical background to some of the most famous, most compelling poetry and drama ever written. The course begins by studying the conventions of Elizabethan love poetry and considering the sexual stereotypes addressed by writers such as Marvell, John Donne and Christopher Marlowe (a poet and playwright who met his end in a bar brawl.)
Students will go on to read and watch performances of two of Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare wrote drama that entertained but also confronted his audiences. By studying plays such as the comedy Twelfth Night and the tragedy of Macbeth students will be introduced to the following topics: the power struggles between Elizabethan men and women; the influence of carnival and cross dressing; the use of sexual innuendo on Shakespeare’s Stage; the history and style of Elizabethan acting; the representation of witchcraft and dramatization of rebellion and violent conflict.
The course also involves a visit to the recreation of the Globe theatre on the banks of the river Thames (a theatre where Shakespeare wrote and performed plays after 1599) and a walking tour of Shakespeare’s London. This course is suitable for any student interested in knowing more about Shakespeare and his fellow writers.
EXAMPLE CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES (2-4 PER COURSE)
- Watch a theatrical performance of Twelfth Night
- Watch a theatrical performance of Macbeth
- A Bankside walking tour
- Shakespeare Globe Theatre
WEEKEND OPTIONAL STUDY TOUR TO STRATFORD-UPON-AVON (SEMESTER ONLY, NOT OFFERED IN THE SUMMER)
Students registered for this course will have priority access to book a place on the tour.
"Shakespeare's Footsteps: Culture and History in Stratford-upon-Avon"
Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, a market town approximately a hundred miles from London, is the place where William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and it where he retired to in 1610. The Stratford trips, led by FIE’s theatre or Shakespearian literature tutors, enable students to learn about Shakespeare and his work by exploring his hometown and attending contemporary performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
On this trip we will explore the geography of Stratford, visiting the house in which Shakespeare was born and grew up, a house that has been a place of pilgrimage for Shakespeare scholars for the last two hundred and fifty years. We will also visit the site of New House, a house that Shakespeare purchased in 1597 and lived in until his death, as well as the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare and his wife and daughter are buried. Further visits include wife Anne Hathaway’s childhood home and Hall’s Croft, the seventeenth-century home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susannah and her husband, a prominent Stratford doctor whose herb garden was famous throughout England.
The trip will include guided tours of Stratford by the tutor including historical and literary background of Stratford in relation to Shakespeare and his family. We will also be attending two performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company. While the specific performances change each season, the RSC will world renowned for its modern and sometimes radical productions of works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The RSC also regularly commissions and produces original shows and adaptations. We also explore the RSC’s ‘Page to Stage Tour,’ featuring commentary on how the company creates theatre from text to performance.
There will be a background/lecture seminar for each play as part of the trip as well as a chance to discuss the performances after each play. Learn more on our London Study Tours page.