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Literature 5C: Shakespeare and Memory


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Literature 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 or 4, or equivalent.


Memory is almost everywhere in Shakespeare. Hamlet is centrally preoccupied with the question of how to remember the dead; the history plays examine the politics of historical memory; the Roman plays explore the idea of ‘remembering’ ancient Rome, with the theatre functioning as a kind of ‘memory machine’; the relations between memory and desire form a recurring theme in the sonnets. This course, students will analyse the issue of memory in a cross-section of Shakespeare’s work: Hamlet, 1 & 2 Henry IV, Henry V, Titus Andronicus, The Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night, the sonnets (selection). They will also study a selection of recent work in memory studies and Shakespeare studies.

Course objectives

By the end of the course, students will:

  • have gained substantial knowledge of the various ways in which Shakespeare’s work explores the issue of memory;

  • have familiarized themselves with recent work in memory studies and in Shakespeare studies;

  • be able to draw creatively and critically on this work in their own literary analysis.

  • have further extended and deepened their powers of literary analysis through in-depth reading of texts;

  • have further honed their ability to engage in informed academic debate about literary texts and about broader issues such as memory;

  • have further honed their research and academic writing skills.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • 2500-word essay (excluding quotations)

  • End-of-term take-home exam


  • 2500-word essay (excluding quotations) (40% of your final grade)

  • End-of-term take-home exam (60% of your final grade)

To pass the course, students should obtain at least a 6.0 for their essay.


If the final grade is insufficient, students can revise and resubmit their essay and/or retake the take-home exam.

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

  • Jonathan Bate & Eric Rasmussen (eds.), The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. ISBN 9780230200951.

  • Students are required to purchase this edition of Shakespeare’s plays. No other editions are allowed.

  • Further reading material to be downloaded via the Leiden University Library online catalogue.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Student administration Arsenaal


Students are required to purchase this edition of Shakespeare’s plays. No other editions are allowed.