ENG-30070 - Shakespeare on Film: Adaptation and Appropriation
Coordinator: Becky Yearling Room: CBB2.061 Tel: +44 1782 7 34282
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective





Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

This module will introduce students to Shakespearean adaptation and appropriation via a detailed consideration of the phenomenon of Shakespeare on film. What is involved in the cinema's on-off love affair with Shakespeare and the Shakespearean? What kinds of audience are targeted by the makers of Shakespearean films? What happens when a theatrical text is transferred to the screen, or when the literary is transformed into the cinematic? What is the relationship between film adaptation and other forms of Shakespearean appropriation? Film Shakespeare can be traditionalist or avant-garde, commercial or marginal. At one end of the spectrum, theatre productions are faithfully transferred to film; at the other, scraps of text or narrative survive in new contexts. Students may examine Hollywood and art-house productions, silent and non-Anglophone films, films aimed at adults and children, films that utilise a variety of genres (film noir, horror, teen movies), and adaptations intended for film and television. Students may also consider films that use Shakespeare or the Shakespearean without necessarily adapting any specific play, such as Shakespeare in Love or Theatre of Blood. This module is designed for students who have successfully completed literature and/or film modules at FHEQ Level 4 or 5.
On this module students will study four plays by Shakespeare, covering a range of dramatic genres, and eight film adaptations.

Suggested introductory reading:
Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer, eds., Shakespeare and Appropriation (London and New York: Routledge, 1999).
Lynda E. Boose and Richard Burt, eds., Shakespeare, the Movie: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV, and Video (London: Routledge, 1997).
Shakespeare, the Movie II: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV, Video, and DVD (London and New York: Routledge, 2003).
Courtney Lehmann, Shakespeare Remains: Theater to Film, Early Modern to Postmodern (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2002).

To introduce students to concepts relating to adaptation, appropriation and intertextuality via an in-depth examination of Shakespeare on film. To relate the plays and films to their various social and cultural contexts, and to examine them in relation to a variety of critical and theoretical texts. To teach students how to create their own adaptations of Shakespeare into a film script.

Intended Learning Outcomes

assess critically the works of Shakespeare and the processes through which his plays have been adapted and appropriated in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: 1,2
present effective close analysis of film and literature: 1,2
demonstrate the research skills appropriate to advanced undergraduate study in the Humanities, and the ability to sustain an argument in written work: 1,2
plan, research, and produce work within the limitations of time and resources available: 1,2
assimilate, synthesise and assess major critical approaches to literature and film, in particular discussions of authorship, genre, commerce, culture, gender, sexuality, class, race and nation: 2
demonstrate an understanding of the technical processes and artistic choices involved in adapting Shakespeare to film: 1,2

Study hours

24 hours seminars
12 hours workshops
20 hours film viewing
34 hours seminar preparation
60 hours assessment preparation

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Short Paper weighted 30%
A 1000-word comparative analysis
Students will be asked to pick a short sequence (max 5 minutes) from a film studied on the module, and to write a close analysis of the film and the Shakespearean material it adapts. They will be expected to use appropriate terminology from film and literary studies. They will receive guidance from the tutor about how to choose a suitable extract for analysis. The analysis will be of 1000 words.

2: Essay weighted 70%
Choice of either an essay or a creative writing script
Students will have a choice to either 1) write a 2000-word essay analysing at least two modern films based on Shakespeare's work OR 2) write a 1300-word film script adapting an extract from a Shakespearean play + a 700-word critical component that analyses and explains the decisions made in the adaptation process.