Shakespeare for Teachers

Course name

Shakespeare for Teachers




5/6 ECTS

Course date

semester 1 (2023 - 2024)

Registration open until

02/06/2023 - 24/09/2023




Sonja Kleij (RU) / t.b.a.

E-mail contact

Sonja Kleij (RU)

Course objectives

With successful completion of this course, students will: 

  • have developed a critical intellectual foundation for teaching Shakespeare; 
  • be able to recognize defining characteristics and concerns of Shakespearean drama; 
  • be able to analyze and discuss the rich, complex language of Shakespeare’s plays; 
  • be able to identify and to differentiate amongst theoretical approaches to Shakespeare’s plays; 
  • be able to situate Shakespeare’s drama in the realities of the early modern playhouse; 
  • be able to discuss adaptation and performance approaches to Shakespeare’s work; 
  • have mastered different dramatic techniques to explore Shakespeare’s drama; 
  • further develop their independent research skills.

Course content

Knowledge of, and familiarity with, Shakespeare’s plays and poems remain vital components of understanding English language, literature, and culture. This course deepens and broadens that knowledge and familiarity by closely attending to two of Shakespeare’s plays and a selection of his sonnets, and by bringing contemporary, topical critical lenses to bear on those works. Through close reading, serious engagement with critical theory, and discussions of performance productions and interpretations of the plays, students will hone their skills in critical reading and writing and gain an essential academic grounding for teaching Shakespeare themselves.

We will spend two weeks studying the Sonnets, three weeks on Henry V (this includes a viewing of the play) and two weeks on Romeo and Juliet. We will explore memory and remembrance, as well as performance in relation to Henry V and approach Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of gender studies and adaptation studies.

Educational perspective

This course will help students develop the expertise needed for teaching Shakespeare and it will encourage them to develop their own best tools for that teaching.

Course requirements / Language proficiency

A strong command of spoken and written English is essential to succeed in this course.


Seminars and lectures, and independent research. There will be six seminars and lectures of which the first will be in person and the rest will be online. There will also be an in person viewing of the Globe production of Henry V (2012) in week 4.

40% Presentation
60% Research essay

Study load
5 ECTS = 140 hours, of which:

  • Seminars: 7 x 3 = 21 hrs
  • Reading and preparatory work per week: 6 x 9 = 56 hrs
  • Presentation = 23 hrs
  • Research Essay = 40 hrs

Uva/VU students who need 6 ECTS may elect to do more homework or an extra assignment. This must be determined with the course teacher(s) in week 1.

Background literature and course materials

  • Shakespeare, William. The Complete Sonnets and Poems, ed. Colin Burrow. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Shakespeare, William. Henry V, ed. Gary Taylor. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet, ed. Jill. L. Levenson. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Gong, Chloe. These Violent Delights. Hodder, 2020.

Total costs: 50€.

Further information

Friday afternoon

10/11/2023, 14h30-17h00 on campus Radboud in Nijmegen: E 2.68
(Note: only this first class starts at 14:30, for students who also take the other Masterlanguage course Language Variation and Change on campus in Utrecht)
17/11/2023, 14h00-17h00 (online)
24/11/2023, 14h00-17h00 (online)
01/12/2023, 14h00-17h00 on campus Radboud in Nijmegen: E 2.06
08/12/2023, 14h00-17h00 (online)
15/12/2023, 14h00-17h00 (online)
22/12/2023, 14h00-17h00 (online)