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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Literature, Languages and Cultures

Undergraduate Course: Shakespeare and Italy (LLLG07101)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course will study the key Italian plays from a specifically topographical perspective, looking at the origins of Shakespeare's detailed - though not always accurate - references to Italy; and asking what Italy meant to Shakespeare's imagination in terms of culture, religion, political organization, and mercantile wealth. We shall evaluate how important a role the geographical setting is to each of the plays..
Course description Some of Shakespeare's greatest plays are not only set in Italy, but actually depend for some of their key moments on a richly Italianate context. Students will study the cultural context in which the plays were written and how in art, fashion, philosophy and politics, the Italy of the High Renaissance was still a cultural leader in Shakespeare's time, and how many English aristocrats were becoming 'Italianate'. We shall study the geographical contexts of two early comedies, Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew, whose very Italianate nature announces a bold new voice on the Elizabethan stage, and one which refused to embrace the standard anti-Catholicism of other writers on the subject. We shall read Romeo and Juliet, paying particular attention to Verona as a setting for scenes both violent and amorous.
We shall interrogate Italian values and Shakespearean attitudes towards race and religion in The Merchant of Venice and Othello.

We shall evaluate the authenticity of Shakespeare's view of Italy and discuss the travel literature which would have been available to him, and consider the encounters he would have had in London with Italians such as the colourful humanist John Florio.

Classes will include illustrated lectures, close reading of passages and guided group discussion. Examples of stage and film productions will be shown, and in their textual analysis of the plays, students will be encouraged to refer closely to the plays as pieces of live drama.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Evaluate the importance of Italy and Italian culture to Shakespeare's plays;
  2. Evaluate and assess ideas from a range of secondary and non-literary sources in order to bring them to bear on their analyses of the body in literature;
  3. Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently;
  4. Evaluate texts through close reading, identifying literary and dramatic techniques and devices and an understanding of how language is used for dramatic effect
  5. Articulate knowledge of the historical and cultural context in which the plays were written
Reading List
William Shakespeare., 2015. The Norton Shakespeare Third Edition. New York: W. W. Norton
Recommended further reading:
Michele Marrapodi (ed.), 2004. Shakespeare, Italy and intertextuality. Manchester: Manchester University Press
Michael J. Redmond., 2009. Shakespeare, politics and Italy. Farnham: Ashgate
Ernsto Grillo., 1949 Shakespeare and Italy. Glasgow: University Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Confidence in discussing texts
Ability to articulate knowledge and arguments coherently
Ability to assess secondary materials
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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