Shakespeare for Teachers

Course name

Shakespeare for Teachers




5/6 EC

Course date

semester 1 (2022-2023)

Registration open until

01/06/2022 - 25/09/2022




Sonja Kleij (Radboud)

E-mail contact

Sonja Kleij (Radboud)

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, two weeks on Romeo and Juliet, and two weeks on Henry V. We will approach Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of gender studies and adaptation studies, and we will explore performance, memory and remembrance in relation to Henry V.


Course requirements / Language proficiency

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



Presentation 40%
This assignment brings together three main objectives of the course by helping you develop 1) your skills as presenters and teachers; 2) your comprehension of Shakespeare; and 3) your ability to make meaningful critical connections between the scene under analysis and the course’s secondary literature.
One student group per week will select 1) a sonnet/scene around which to organize their discussion and 2) one of the critical texts assigned for that week. The group’s discussion will showcase their understanding of the sonnet/scene (and thus the play), their understanding of the critical text, and their ability to engage students in discussing your chosen scene. You must inform the lecturer of which scene and which essay will you discuss no later than the Monday before our Friday class.

Research Essay 60%
For this assignment, you will make a critical argument about Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, and/or the Sonnets and you will draw on one of the theoretical lenses discussed during the course. Your essay will demonstrate your critical insights, your close-reading skills, and your judicious use of secondary sources. This essay will be 3000 words (including references) and will be formatted in MLA style. Note: You must earn at least a 6 on this assignment in order to pass the course.


5 ECTS (=140 hours):

  • Seminars: 6 x 3 = 18 hrs
  • Reading and preparatory work per week: 7 x 8 = 56 hrs
  • Presentation = 26 hrs
  • Research Essay = 40 hrs

Students who need 6 ECTS may elect to do an extra assignment. This must be determined with your lecturer 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. Romeo and Juliet, ed. Jill. L. Levenson. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Shakespeare, William. Henry V, ed. Gary Taylor. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008.

€ 50

Further information

All seminars and lectures will be online; independent research.

Fridays 14:00-17:00