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Global Shakespeare


A stage with a light centered

This course is a study of the dissemination of Shakespeare's plays across a range of cultures and sites from the early seventeenth century to the present, with a focus on the development of Shakespeare as a "global" author. Selected plays will be studied in historical context and in geographically diverse adaptations in theatrical, print, and electronic media.

ENGL 259 will engage students in a detailed study of selected Shakespearean plays across a range of geographical locales and in at least four overlapping historical and cultural contexts:  1) the intersection of Shakespeare's plays with early modern 'global' culture (including the representation of non-English cultures on the London stage, the attendance at the early modern theatre of international spectators, some of whom provide our earliest eye-witness accounts of staging practices, and the performance of Shakespeare's plays by touring companies in early modern Europe); 2) live stagings of Shakespeare's plays outside early modern London (including detailed analysis of the theatrical networks in which these plays were performed and the shifting meanings of text and context with each performance); 3) the textual network in which Shakespeare's plays have been disseminated (including scholarly and teaching editions, translations, illustrated adaptations, screenplays, etc.); and 4) the electronic networks which have facilitated the dissemination of Shakespeare's plays to unprecedented numbers of people worldwide (radio and TV adaptations, films, internet editions, social media, websites such as the Global Shakespeares Video and Performance Archive at MIT, etc.).  Virtually any play of Shakespeare's that has been produced, published, or otherwise disseminated outside early modern London would be an appropriate text for this course, and it is to be expected that individual instructors will modify the content according to their own interests and understanding of the field. Particularly rich and multifarious examples of the globalization of Shakespeare are to be found in the dissemination of Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and of course The Tempest. In this course, the focus will be on the following plays: Hamlet, Macbeth and The Tempest.

In addition to acquiring a close understanding of the plays both in their earliest and selected subsequent cultural moments, students will be introduced to the appropriate historical, theoretical and methodological issues attendant on a study of Shakespeare and "global" culture: the relationship between the spread of English as a global language and the development of Shakespeare as a global author; the tension between the purportedly "universal values" expressed in Shakespeare's plays and the local meanings and motivations of their staging or refiguring; the shifting economies and ideologies of cultural production and transmission; the conceptual and practical challenges of transferring content from one language to another (through translation, adaptation, rewriting, bilingual editions, supertitles, etc.); and the transfiguration of linguistic to visual, musical, and other media, as well as the relationship among these media in the production of meaning in a given cultural moment.


  • Hamlet (Norton Critical Edition. 2nd edition)
  • Macbeth (Norton Critical Edition. 2nd edition)
  • The Tempest (Norton Critical Edition. 2nd edition)
  • Aimé Césaire, A Tempest: Based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’; Adaptation for a Black Theatre. Translated from the French by Richard Miller. New York: TCG Translations, 2002.


  • Written report of 500 – 700 words (production analysis) on a selected performance of a Shakespeare play (15%)
  • Online discussion forum (x3—one for each play studied) (15%)
  • Term essay of 1,200 – 1,500 words on an adaptation of a Shakespeare play (30%)
  • Take-home Final exam (40%)


  • Level 2 or above or 6.0 units of ENGL

Additional information

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153


Telephone (613) 533-6000 ext. 74446 extension 74446


Telephone (613) 533-6000 ext. 74447 extension 74447

Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.