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Semester 1

Shakespeare's Comedies: Identity and Illusion (ENLI10279)

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English Literature





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Visiting students must have completed 4 English Literature courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses, and we do not consider civilisation & other interdisciplinary courses, freshman seminars, writing/composition courses or film/cinema/media courses; visiting students who have taken multiple courses in literature in other languages, should have passed at least one course in English Literature as well. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission, and priority will be given to students studying on exchange within English Literature. **This is an *Option* course. Please note that students can only enrol in one Core and/or one Option 3rd year English Literature course per semester, with no exception. Students enrolled in this course therefore cannot enrol in any further Option courses during this semester** Please note that 3rd year English Literature courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

This course explores the range of Shakespeare's writing of comedy from the early romantic comedies, through the "mature" and "problem" comedies, to the tragicomic romances of the last plays. The course will consider early modern and recent ideas about comedy as a genre and mode, and trace the ongoing engagement of the plays with various interpenetrating thematic debates. An early interest in illusion leads to a focus on the shifting and unstable nature of perception, linked on the one hand to the effects of love and desire, and on the other to notions of the theatrical. These interests lead to a comic and comedic exploration of the nature and growth of the self, the problems of desire and of gendered identity, and the ways in which these may be addressed through the artifice of the comic form.

Course Description

Week 1: Introduction: ideas of comedy ; Week 2: Metamorphosis and disguise: Two Gentlemen of Verona ; Week 3: Identity and Gender: The Taming of the Shrew ; Week 4: Illusion and Identity: Midsummer Night's Dream ; Week 5: Mask and Mistake: Much Ado About Nothing ; Week 6: Green world: As You Like It ; Week 7: Desire and Frustration: All's Well that Ends Well; Week 8: Essay Completion Week ; Week 9: Sexuality and problem: Measure for Measure ; Week 10: Art and nature: The Winter's Tale ; Week 11: Last Play: The Tempest.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

Visiting student disclaimer