SOAS University of London

Centre for English Studies, School of Arts

Global Shakespeare

Module Code:
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 

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Weeks 2-9: Shakespeare's Tragedies, Histories, and Comedies
  • Weeks 10-11: Shakespeare in Adaptation: Context and Form

Term 2 

  • Shakespeare in Global Adaptation: Eastern Europe, the Arab world, Japan, South Asia, South Africa, the Caribbean, the US and UK.

Please note that, due to maternity cover from January 2018, texts for this section of the module are subject to minor changes. The reading list will be confirmed and information circulated early in Term 1.

Term 3

  • Revision 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
Books (Where possible, please ensure you have purchased or borrowed a copy of these books/DVDs well in advance - multiple copies are available in the SOAS library):
  • 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 Welles, 1965)
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh, 1993)
  • Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)
  • The Bad Sleep Well (Akira Kurosawa, 1960)
  • Ran (Akira 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)
  • Othello (Suzman/The Market Theatre, 1989)
Useful resources to explore before starting the module: 
Shakespeare and early modern drama and life
Shakespeare's London


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules