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The Comic Spirit: Shakespeare's Comedies and Classic Film Comedy


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree and an interest in Shakespeare and in film


We will explore the meanings and possibilities of the comic mode through close analysis of Shakespeare’s comedies and ‘tragi-comedies’ in relation to classic films from the period, 1930-2000. We shall consider these works of art through formalist analysis, the techniques of close reading, and through their cultural and historical context. We will be alert to many issues, including gender, politics, and discourses of love and romance

Course objectives

  • Course objective 1
    This course will extend and deepen the power of students’ critical analysis through in-depth consideration of texts.

  • Course objective 2
    Students will explore critical debates surrounding film studies.

  • Course objective 3
    The course will aim to provide for literature students the critical skills necessary for the analysis of visual texts. This will involve an understanding of: basic film theory; the uses of the frame and editing; the place of the ‘star’; the nature of genre; and the ‘auteur theory’.

  • Course objective 4
    Regarding both literary and cinematic art works, it will also aim to extend the students’ skills in the
    reading of narrative and the understanding of the relationship of a text to its cultural/social context.

  • Course objective 5
    Students will be encouraged to share analytical and critical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion, perhaps including short presentations, and will focus research skills in the writing of a final research paper.

  • Course objective 6 In their papers, the students will show that they have developed the relevant skills for researching and writing on drama and film.


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Mode of instruction


Assessment method


You must submit two essays of 2500-3500 words (50% each). Both essays must contain a significant
element of research. All essays will be expected on a date (to be announced) during the exam period.
Essays are assessed according to the following criteria: your ability to come up with a ‘thesis statement’ in relation to the topic in question, one that your essay / assignment will coherently and insightfully develop;
the quality and sophistication of the central argument; the depth and appropriateness of your research;
the scholarliness of your referencing and presentation; the deployment of structure; the quality of the writing; and the originality and depth of your analysis. Any student who plagiarises their work will be in trouble for doing so.

Students who take this course as part of the Tweejarige Educatieve Master/two-year MA Education programme are expected to write at least one of the two required essays on a topic that they can later draw on in a secondary-school teaching context.


two essays 50% each


Late / resit essays will be graded, but will not receive any comments.
Resit essays can be submitted in the resit period. In exceptional circumstances, with the agreement of the tutor and the Study Co-ordinator, essays may also be submitted after that date.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

There are no prescribed versions of the Shakespeare plays for you to read. However, I recommend
either the New Arden editions, the OUP’s single Oxford editions (but not for The Winter’s Tale), or the Penguin editions. The older Arden editions are somewhat outdated, but can also be very sound; the Penguin editions similarly. If you use a single-volume edition of the plays, then it’s best to go for either the Arden, RSC, Oxford, New Oxford, or Norton – all these have definite strengths and are serious scholarly works.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the [website](

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

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Teacher: Dr. M.S. Newton
Student administration: Arsenaal
Coordinator of studies: ms. Mr.drs. P.C. Lai


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