Shakespeare's Afterlives - CPLT6560

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Patricia Novillo-Corvalan checkmark-circle


How have twentieth-century writers across the world negotiated and appropriated Shakespeare's omnipresent cultural influence? How have they revised, reinvented, and reimagined his legacy in Europe, Asia, and the Americas (North, Central, and South)? This module focuses on a selection of Shakespeare's most influential plays (Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest) in order to examine how their thematic, historical, and cultural concerns have been transplanted to a wide range of global locations including the Caribbean, Germany, Japan, a farm in the USA, and the Argentine Pampas. The module also engages with theoretical notions related to the act of appropriating Shakespeare, including the theory of intertextuality, the Benjaminian concept of the 'afterlife' of a text, and Genette's study of the 'palimpsest’ as a text derived from a pre-existent text. In addition, the module will reflect on issues of race, gender, and cultural identity embedded in the adaptations of the bard in the various world contexts in which his work has been complexly modernized and redeployed.Borges, J.L. 'Everything and Nothing’, 'Shakespeare’s Memory’, and ‘The Pattern’.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Presentation (20 minutes) – 25%
Essay (3,000 words) – 75%

Indicative reading

Any edition:

Borges, J.L. 'Everything and Nothing', 'Shakespeare's Memory', and 'The Pattern’.
Kurosawa, A. Throne of Blood.
Müller, H. Hamletmachine.
Shakespeare, W. Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest.
Smiley, J. A Thousand Acres.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Accurately deploy techniques of close reading and textual analysis in order to come to a systematic understanding of a range of Shakespeare's plays and their twentieth-century appropriations;
Demonstrate a systematic understanding of key aspects of recent critical approaches to Shakespeare's plays and adaptations of his plays;
Engage critically with and comment upon these critical approaches as well as to understand the specific cultural, historical and political contexts from which these approaches emerge;
Demonstrate detailed and high-level understanding of the intertextual relations between texts, and how Shakespeare's plays have been adapted to new historical and cultural circumstances across the world;
Evaluate the various ways in which world writers 'talked back' to Shakespeare, and how they responded to his canonical discourse with reverence and irreverence, sympathy and antipathy, and homage and parody;
Demonstrate an ability to assess comparatively the literary, political, historical, and cultural legacy of Shakespeare's plays in different world-wide locations;
Demonstrate a cogent understanding of the theory of intertextuality and broader approaches to the 'translation' of literary works as cultural acts of adaptation and appropriation, and to appreciate the complexities and limitations of these approaches.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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