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Unit information: Shakespearean Tragedy: Textual and Literary Criticism in 2015/16

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Unit name Shakespearean Tragedy: Textual and Literary Criticism
Unit code ENGL39027
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Publicover
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The course focuses on the main four tragedies - Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth - and on the interpretative and textual challenges which these plays pose. It addresses the usefulness of the notion of tragedy in thinking of these plays and explores creative rewritings of and responses to Shakespeare's plays.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have:

(1) developed a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of some of the most complex texts in the English language, Shakespeare’s four main tragedies;

(2) in-depth knowledge of some of the literary and historical contexts which inform them, particularly tragedy, one of the most complex critical terms in literary criticism

(3) demonstrated the ability to analyse and evaluate differing critical accounts of Shakespeare’s tragedies;

(4) demonstrated the ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence in order to present a cogent argument;

(5) strengthened their skills in argumentation and academic writing

Teaching Information

1 x 2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Information

  • 1 essay of 2000 words 40%
  • 1 essay of 3,000 words 60%

Both summative essays assess ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

  • A. C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy (1904; Penguin Classics, 1991)
  • Paul Hammond, The Strangeness of Tragedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • William Shakespeare, Othello
  • William Shakespeare, King Lear
  • William Shakespeare, Macbeth