Mr Barnaby Bax Essay

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EL2011: Encounters with Shakespeare

30 Scotcat credit points; 12 weeks
Session 2013/14

Course convenor:
Dr Andrew Gordon, Taylor B07; 272626;

Course team: Dr Thomas Rist, Taylor B15; 272832; Dr Dan Wall, Taylor A40, 272149; Leslie Drury , Dr Adam Hanna, Ian Crockatt,

This course guide should be read in conjunction with the following booklets available at
And on the MyAberdeen course site.

The Level 1 & 2 Handbook for English The Guidance on Avoiding Plagiarism Good Writing Guide

Lectures are held on Tuesdays at 10.00 in New Kings NK6 and Thursday at 10.00 in Regent Lecture Theatre.
Screenings are held on Wednesdays in Fraser Noble 2, from 2 pm
There will be an additional Lecture on Friday at 10.00 in ZG18 Zoology in week 1 only

Stephen Greenblatt et al, eds, The Norton Shakespeare International Student Edition. Second Edition (New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 2008).

Ben Jonson, Volpone ed. Brian Parker and David Bevington (Manchester: Revels Student Edition 1999).

A good selection of essays is also available at a reasonable price in Russ McDonald (ed.), Shakespeare: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1945-2000 (Blackwell, 2004). This book is not a set text, but it is worth considering purchasing it.

1. Aims and objectives of the course

1.1. Course description
So you think you know Shakespeare? This course invites you to think again. Studying a range of plays we seek to get behind the mythology of Shakespeare, and rediscover the dynamic inventiveness of the Elizabethan theatre. Shakespeare and his contemporaries were the principal players in a period of literary experimentation that reinvented the possibilities of literature. The playhouse was a new cultural venue in Shakespeare's time, and the language itself was a rapidly evolving medium to which drama gave voice. Building upon study of the language of Shakespeare and the conditions of the Elizabethan playhouse, this course examines the ways in which the theatre imagined and debated key issues of the period. What was the place of Shakespeare's theatre within the culture of his time? How did his plays engage with controversial questions of politics, religion and gender? And how did he bridge the demands of a form that was both popular entertainment and a leisure activity of the elite? Encounters with Shakespeare is your chance to find out.

1.2. The aims of the course are to: enhance your understanding of a selection of important early modern plays; develop your knowledge of the conditions of early modern theatre and its place within contemporary culture explore how the plays of the period respond to the conditions of drama explore how the plays of the period raise examine contemporary ideas about politics, religion and gender. develop your ability to talk and write about literature with critical awareness and historical sensitivity.

1.3. By the end of the course, you should be able to: give critically-informed readings of early modern plays by Shakespeare and contemporaries; situate the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries within the context of the theatre of the period and contemporary cultural debates express your ideas clearly and succinctly both orally and on paper; present your written work in scholarly form.


Each week there is a set dramatic text which is compulsory reading.

Week 1: Introduction and Twelfth Night (Dr Andrew Gordon)
1. Shakespeare’s theatre of language
2. The attraction of Eloquence
3. Words of Love: Speech and Desire in Twelfth Night

Please note that there are THREE lectures in week 1: the third lecture will be held on Friday, 10-11 in the Zoology building, ZG18.

Week 2: Volpone and the