SOAS University of London

Centre for English Studies

Global Shakespeare

Module Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

Shakespeare enjoys a remarkable cultural afterlife all over the world in various languages and cultures. This course aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to read, interpret, and analyse the “Global Shakespeare” across these different literary traditions and cultures.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, students will have

  • gained a critical understanding of Shakespeare’s works and his global legacy across various cultures;
  • acquired the background knowledge and critical skills necessary to analyse the “Global Shakespeares” in the respective political, social, literary, and cultural context of their production;
  • acquired familiarity with the most significant critical approaches to Shakespeare’s plays, authorship, and to critical approaches to “global Shakespeare” (including postcolonial readings).


Total of 22 weeks of teaching with a one hour lecture and a one hour tutorial session per week.

Scope and syllabus

The course will introduce students to the critical studies, translations, and adaptations of Shakespeare around the globe. Texts, films, and performances will be discussed in class. Selected theoretical and critical texts will also be introduced to support and guide these discussions.

Term 1 (10 weeks)
Week 1. Introduction
Weeks 2-4. Tragedies: Overview, Texts, Critical Studies
Weeks 5-7. Histories: Overview, Texts, Critical Studies
Weeks 8-10. Comedies: Overview, Texts, Critical Studies

Term 2 (10 weeks)
Weeks 1-3. Reading Shakespeare across Cultures (Guest lectures on “Other Shakespeares”)
Weeks 4-7. Films and Adaptations
Weeks 8-10. Guest lectures by Shakespearen performers, directors, etc.

Term 3 (2 weeks): Reflections and Presentations

The objective of the course is to give students a critical overview, through primary and secondary texts, of the different ways in which Shakespeare was and continues to be popular and relevant to readers, critics, audience, and performers across cultures. The course will also provide students interested in comparative literature and theatre with the necessary foundation for further research.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination (60%) May/June; an essay of 1,500 - 2,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 7, term 1 (10%); an essay of 1,500 - 2,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 2 (10%); an essay of 1,500 - 2,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 3 (10%); preparation and participation in classroom discussion (10%).

Suggested reading

Shakespeare Plays (please use the Folger Digital Editions if at all possible, which are available for free at

  • Titus Andronicus
  • Henry IV Parts 1 and 2
  • King Lear
  • Othello
  • Hamlet
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Tempest


  • Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (make sure to get the English translation)
  • Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
  • Marvin A Carlson and Margaret Litvin, eds., Four Arab Hamlet Plays
  • Toni Morrison, Desdemona
  • Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven

Films (These will be available to watch at home or in a class screening during term-time)

  • Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles1965)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh, 1993)
  • Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)
  • The Bad Sleep Well (Kurosawa, 1960)
  • Ran (Kurosawa, 1985)
  • Shakespeare Wallah (Merchant Ivory, 1965)
  • All Night Long (Basil Dearden, 1962)
  • Titus (Julie Taymor, 1999) – you might also want to watch Taymor’s other Shakespeare film adaptations, The Lion
  • King and The Tempest
  • Haider (Vishal Bhardwaj, 2014)
  • Hamlet (Kishore Sahu, 1954)
  • Othello (Suzman/The Market Theatre, 1989)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules