Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LMJ490 (AF:381825 AR:210906)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
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Othello in History
This module offers students the opportunity to study one of Shakespeare's earliest Jacobean tragedies in depth, in its own time, in its afterlife, and from a number of discursive points of view. It reads Othello through the topics that concern the play: race, gender, masculinity, 'civility' versus the 'wheeling stranger', female duty, gossip. Locating Othello in history, it begins by looking at Venice -- in the person of Carlo Giovanni Scaramelli, senior civil servant and secretary to the Venetian Senate -- in London in January 1603 and speculates on the nexus of persons and ideas that provide a possible backstory to the play. It goes on to read Shakespeare's source in Giraldo Cinzio and to consider a map, to plot the play's geographic co-ordinates in locations burdened with significance for early modernity. Thereafter it thinks about early modern forms of narrative: the traveller's tale, the personal history, the cultural documentary, slander. In the final seminars, we re-historicise Othello by looking at some examples of what has been made of Shakespeare's play since its first performance in 1604.
Students will need to purchase or borrow from their library only one core text for this course, and they will need to bring it to every seminar:
Shakespeare, William. Othello, E.A.J. Honigmann (ed.) The Arden Shakespeare (Arden2, 1997, Bloomsbury: London and New York).
--or the latest Arden update --
Shakespeare, William. Othello, Ayanna Thompson (rev. 'Introduction') The Arden Shakespeare (Arden3, 2016, Bloomsbury: London and New York).
One 2,500-word essay on a topic devised in consultation with the module tutor.
Secondary reading will be made available to students after the beginning of the term.
This programme is provisional and there could still be changes in its contents.
Last update of the programme: 30/01/2023