Faculty of Arts


Shakespeare on Screen

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for ENGLISH 300.


Course Overview

This course investigates ways in which directors have adapted Shakespeare’s plays to the film or television screen. Its basis is the viewing and analysis of five plays chosen to illustrate the various genres and periods of Shakespeare’s career and different styles of production and adaptation.

The main emphasis is on the "language" of Shakespearian drama, movies and TV in the broad sense, which includes everything that is seen and heard. Special emphasis will be placed on directors’ use of shot, scene and sequence, which contributes to their distinctive film rhetorics.

Plays of Shakespeare to be examined are, in order of teaching: Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar and Macbeth. Excerpts will be shown from others.

Through the audiovisual collection of the University Library, it is possible to view contrasting versions of almost all Shakespeare’s plays, and the examination and coursework enable students to write about many of these. So the course offers a chance greatly to extend the range of Shakespearian drama with which students are familiar.

Course Goals

By the end of this course students should:

  • Have a sound familiarity with the texts of the five set plays, including the original language of those plays
  • Be able to identify and discuss the following six key aspects of a Shakespearean film / tv adaptation: script, direction, camera, acting, music and editing
  • Appreciate and be equipped to discuss the diverse theatrical, televisual and cinematic pleasures offered by the works we study
  • Be in an informed position to discuss the creative and cultural value of Shakespeare on Screen
  • Have an enhanced ability to construct a critical argument in essay form, documenting their research through a scholarly bibliography or List of Works Cited

Availability 2018

Not taught in 2018


Coordinator(s) Dr Sophie Tomlinson


Prescribed texts

William Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus (Oxford Shakespeare), Julius Caesar (Oxford Shakespeare), The Merchant of Venice (RSC Shakespeare), Macbeth (Pelican Shakespeare), Romeo and Juliet (Pelican Shakespeare).

Prescribed films

Titus Andronicus: Dir. Howell, BBC TV (1985); Dir. Taymor, Titus (2000). Julius Caesar: Dir. Mankiewicz (1953); Dir. Doran (2012). The Merchant of Venice: Dir. Sichel (1974); Dir. Hoppox (1996); Dir. Nunn BBC / National Theatre (2001); Dir. Radford (2004). Romeo and Juliet: Dir. Zeffirelli (1968); Dir. Luhrmann (1996). Macbeth: Dir. Welles (1948); Dir. Kurosawa, Throne of Blood (1957); Dir. Polanski (1971).

Recommended Reading

Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare and Film (Norton)


Two essays (20/30%)
Tutorial tests (10%)
Two hour restricted-book exam (40%)


ENGLISH 300: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II in English or Drama, or 30 points at Stage II in Media, Film and Television

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