Course Code
ENAM 0835
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

Each seminar runs only if there is sufficient student demand. Shakespeare’s career from 1600 is renowned for its deep analysis of the human capacity for depravity and for ruin. The seminar examines this increasingly sombre mood, contemporary with Elizabeth’s last years and the developing sense in England of what is often described as a ‘counter-Renaissance’. We will read a problematic late comedy before approaching four of the great tragedies, analyses of the human capacity to err disastrously unmatched since ancient Athens. Yet at the end of his public career, Shakespeare discovered a new balance, and the course will conclude with a look at the late ‘tragicomic’ plays.

This seminar is taught by Professor Ralph Hanna, Professor emeritus in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford, and emeritus Fellow of Keble College. It includes a session examining some of the earliest printed material associated with Shakespeare.

  1. Introducing Shakespeare
  2. Twelfth Night
  3. All’s Well that Ends Well
  4. Hamlet
  5. Othello
  6. King Lear
  7. Antony and Cleopatra
  8. Pericles
  9. The Winter’s Tale
  10. The Tempest


Key Reading:

  • The Cambridge Companions series has several volumes on Shakespearian subjects, especially M. De Grazia and S. Wells (eds), The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (2010) (although the first edition, published as S. Wells (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies (1986) has at least two still useful seminal essays, by W. R. Elton and Peter Thomson).
  • E. Smith, Shakespeare’s Comedies: A Guide to Criticism (2003); Shakespeare’s Histories: A Guide to Criticism (2003); and Shakespeare’s Tragedies: A Guide to Criticism (2003)
  • The Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture series also has a number of volumes on Shakespeare, centrally R. Dutton and J.E. Howard (eds), Companion to Shakespeare’s Works (4 vols, 2004)
  • E. Smith, The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare (2007)
  • S. Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: from More to Shakespeare (1980).
  • S. Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (1988)
  • J. Dollimore, Radical Tragedy (1984)
  • A. Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (1989)
  • T. Stern, Making Shakespeare: From Stage to Page (2004)