Shakespeare across Borders

Course Name

Shakespeare across Borders




Course date

semester 1 (2014 - 2015)

Registration open until

- 15/08/2014


Utrecht University


Prof. dr. Ton Hoenselaars (Utrecht University), Dr. Paul Franssen (Utrecht University), Prof. dr. Olga Fischer (University of Amsterdam), Dr. Rudolph Glitz (University of Amsterdam), Dr. Kristine Johanson (University of Amsterdam)

E-mail Contact

Course objectives

Course content

This course – taught in Utrecht, but also on location in Stratford and London – provides MA students of English with an up-to-date and critical familiarity with the language of Shakespeare, as well as the production, the reproduction, and the cultural dissemination of his work. This course further presents opportunities to develop research skills in this field.

At the same time this course seeks to contribute to creating opportunities for MA students to spend valuable study time in Britain. For this reason, the course includes a week-long visit to Stratford and Shakespeare’s Globe in London, where students will follow courses on stage adaptations of Shakespeare and see a number of productions. Experiencing Shakespeare’s plays in the unique theatrical spaces of Shakespeare’s Globe (London) and The Swan (Stratford) will provide an important lens for these students through which to consider how the plays are shaped by, and respond to, their theatrical and material contexts.

The part of the course that takes place in England (a week in Stratford and London) is almost entirely financed by MasterLanguage (course, transport in England, bed and breakfast, theatre tickets). Students are, however, expected to finance their own transport to England, and pay for their own meals.

The exact dates of the week on location in Stratford and London will be announced on this site shortly.

In terms of content, this course studies a small number of carefully selected plays and poems in order to explore the position of Shakespeare’s work not only in Britain but also on the European continent and beyond. After sessions on the most striking linguistic and cultural peculiarities of the texts in question, which are themselves the products of major historical changes, students will explore the processes of Translation, Adaptation, and Tradaptation by which the plays have travelled across borders, at each stage revealing their unique cultural relevance.


  • Mid-term written assignment (40%)
  • Oral presentation (mini-conference) (20%)
  • Final essay (40%)


Study load

280 hours


Background Literature and Course Materials

The following texts by Shakespeare will be read and discussed alongside pertinent secondary texts (1-2 per session):

Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, The Sonnets



Ca. € 200 (max) incl. week in Britain


Further information

1. Introduction to the course (Kristine Johanson and Ton Hoenselaars)


2. Shakespeare’s Language: Linguistic Change (Olga Fischer)


(i) Lass, R. (ed.), The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. III 1476-1776 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), Chapter 7 (Sylvia Adams, “Literary Language,” 7.1-7.6), 539-95.

(ii) Crystal, David, Think of my Words (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), Chapter 6 (“Shakespearean Pronunciation”), 125-45.


3. Shakespeare and the Language of Translation (Ton Hoenselaars)


(i) Hoenselaars, Ton. “Introduction.” In Shakespeare and the Language of Translation. Revised edition. London: The Arden Shakespeare, 2012.

(ii) Delabastita, Dirk. “Shakespeare.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (second edition). Baker, M. & Saldanha, G. (eds.). 263-69. London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

(iii) Delabastita, Dirk. “’I know the letters and the language’: Translation as a Dramatic Device in Shakespeare’s Plays.” In Shakespeare and the Language of Translation, 31-52.

(iv) Hoenselaars, Ton. “Translation Futures: Shakespearians and the Foreign Text.” Shakespeare Survey 62 (2009): 273-82.


4. Editing Shakespeare: Practices and Problems (Kristine Johanson)


(i) De Grazia, Margreta and Peter Stallybrass. “The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text.” Shakespeare Quarterly 44 (1993): 255-83.

(ii) Werstine, Paul. “A Century of ‘Bad’ Shakespeare Quartos.” Shakespeare Quarterly 50:3 (1999): 310-333.


5. Adapting Shakespeare Across Time (Kristine Johanson)


(i) Davidson, Jenny. “Shakespeare Adaptation.” In Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Fiona Ritchie and Peter Sabor. 185–209. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

(ii) Marshall, Louise. “Patriotic Women: Shakespeare heroines of the 1720s.” History of European Ideas, 21 (2005): 289-98.

(iii) Potter, Lois. “Shakespeare in the theatre, 1660-1900.” Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare, eds. Stanley Wells and Margreta de Grazia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. 183-198.


6. Shakespeare and Music (Opera) (Ton Hoenselaars)


Hoenselaars, Ton. “Richard Wagner and the Great Lost Shakespeare Play.” Shakespeare-Jahrbuch 137 (2001), 38-49.

Calvo, Clara, and Ton Hoenselaars. “Shakespeare Eurostar: Calais, the Continent, and the Operatic Fortunes of Ambroise Thomas.” in Shakespeare and Englishness: New Angles on Englishness and the Bard, edited by Willy Maley and Margaret Tudeau-Clayton. 147-64. London: Ashgate, 2010.


7. Shakespeare and Biography: (Re)Constructing the Life (Paul Franssen)


(i) Burgess, Anthony. “Will and Testament.” Enderby’s Dark Lady: Or No End to Enderby. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984. 9-34.

(ii) Holderness, Graham. “Introduction.” Nine Lives of William Shakespeare. London: Continuum, 2011. 1-23.

(iii) Lanier, Douglas. “William Shakespeare, Filmmaker.” The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen. Ed. Deborah Cartmell and Imelda Whelehan. 61-74. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.


8. The Romantics’ Shakespeare (Kristine Johanson)


(i) Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Selection from Coleridge on Shakespeare: The Text of the Lectures of 1811-12. Ed. R. A. Foakes. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1971.

(ii) Hazlitt, William. Selection from Characters of Shakespear’s Plays. London, 1817.


9. Shakespeare and 20th Century Poetry (RG)


(i) Selections from Neil Corcoran, Shakespeare and the Modern Poet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) (t.b.a.).

(ii) Selected poems by W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Auden, Ted Hughes, and Sylvia Plath.


10. Shakespeare and Modern Drama – Writing in the Shadow of Shakespeare: Arnold Wesker’s The Merchant (PF)


(i) Sicher, Ephraim. “The Jewing of Shylock: Wesker’s The Merchant.” Modern Language Studies 21:2 (1991): 57-69.

(ii) Sinfield, Alan. “Making Space: Appropriation and Confrontation in Recent British Plays.” In The Shakespeare Myth. Ed. Graham Holderness. 128-44. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989.

(iii) Wesker, Arnold. The Merchant. Ed. Glenda Leeming. Methuen Student Editions. London: Methuen, 1983.


11. Shakespeare and the Screen (RG)


(i) Mallin, Eric S. “‘You Kilt My Foddah’: or Arnold, Prince of Denmark.” Shakespeare Quarterly 50:2 (1999): 127-51.

(ii) Selected Readings from Jackson, Russell (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).


12. Commemorating Shakespeare – Wartime Commemorations of Shakespeare (PF)


(i) Engler, Balz. “Shakespeare in the Trenches.” Shakespeare Survey 44 (1992): 105-11.

(ii) Kahn, Coppélia. “Remembering Shakespeare Imperially: The 1916 Tercentenary.” Shakespeare Quarterly 52:4 (2001): 456-78.

(iii) Smialkowska, Monika. “’A Democratic Art at a democratic price’. The American Celebrations of the Shakespeare Tercentenary, 1916.” Transatlantica 1 (2010). N.p. Web.

(iv) Some short poems about Shakespeare (will be made available).