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Seminar in Literary Interpretation

The Tempest

A shipwrecked boat

Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest, speaks across the centuries to the colonization and dispossession of indigenous peoples. It is also a play that speaks to the power of art in the messy world of family, state, and global politics. This is indeed Shakespeare’s “global” play—adapted across cultures, media, and histories to think about colonization and empire. This course will be a deep dive into The Tempest in its early modern contexts and in its afterlives in a range of adaptations, translations, appropriations, and citations, including Aimé Césaire’s A Tempest: Adaptation for a Black Theatre (1969), Julie Taymor’s film starring Helen Mirren as Prospero and Djimon Hounsou as Caliban (2010), and Robert Lepage’s collaborative production with the Huron-Wendat Nation in Wendake four hundred years after the play’s premiere. How have these reimaginings altered the meaning of Shakespeare’s play? Of Shakespeare himself?


Assessments will consist of:

  • Research journal to be kept over the term (20%)
  • Participation in a group presentation (20%)
  • A major project or essay (30%)
  • A take-home final exam (30%)


  • ENGL 100
  • Registration in an English major or Joint Honours plan

Additional information

Students who have facility in a language other than English will be welcome to read Shakespeare in translation. A good online edition is available here:

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



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