nl en

Literary Adaptation from Shakespeare to Osofisan


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Literary Studies, research master Literary Studies, research master Arts, Literature and Media and the two-year educational master in English from ICLON.


Adaptation forms a rich and fascinating topic in literary studies. Since the very earliest history of cinema, film directors have turned to novels and plays as materials for their own art, while television, too, has a long history of adapting works of literature from Austen to Zadie Smith. In addition to this, literary authors themselves have adapted the work of their predecessors, with William Shakespeare as one particularly famous example.

In this course, we will examine a range of literary adaptations from the early modern period to the present day. The first half of the course is devoted to the work of William Shakespeare, focusing both on how Shakespeare himself adapted his source materials and on how his work has been adapted by others, for example Preti Taneja and Keith Hamilton Cobb.

The second half focuses on adaptation from the eighteenth century to the present day. It examines the following topics: Robinson Crusoe and the European genre of the shipwreck narrative; cinematic adaptations of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw and What Maisie Knew, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day; and postcolonial adaptations of Greek tragedy by Yaël Farber and Femi Osofisan.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students will:

  • Be able to reflect analytically and theoretically on the nature of literary adaptation as a cultural phenomenon, and on its broader cultural and political dimensions;

  • Be able to offer detailed and sophisticated analysis of specific literary adaptations;

  • Have deepened their ability to engage in informed academic dialogue and debate with others;

  • Have further developed their academic presentation skills;

  • Have further developed their academic writing skills by means of a substantial research essay.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Classroom Presentation (25% of the final mark)

Research essay (4,500 words) (75% of the final mark)

Research MA students should analyse at least one literary work not on the reading list for this course. Their research essay should also offer substantial theoretical reflection on adaptation as a literary and cultural phenomenon.

Students in the two-year teaching MA are able to reflect on how their research paper topic can be put to use in secondary schools.


  • Classroom Presentation (25% of the final mark)

  • Research essay (4,500 words) (75% of the final mark)


Students who fail the course can submit a revised version of their research essay if their essay grade is at least a 5. If their essay grade is lower than a 5, they must write a new research essay on a new topic.

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

William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.
William Shakespeare, King Lear.
William Shakespeare, Othello
For the Shakespeare plays, any good, recent scholarly edition will do (Arden, Oxford, Cambridge et cetera). A good and affordable recent edition of the complete works is The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works (ed. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen).
Aimé Césaire, Une Tempête/A Tempest, English trl. Richard Miller.
Suniti Namjoshi, selected poems from Snapshots of Caliban.
DVD West Side Story (1961; dir. Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins).
Preti Taneja, We That Are Young.
Keith Hamilton Cobb, American Moor.
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Oxford World’s Classics).
Selections from Joachim Heinrich Campe, The New Robinson Crusoe (available as PDF via BrightSpace.)
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (Penguin or Oxford World’s Classics).
Henry James, What Maisie Knew (Penguin).
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day.
DVD The Innocents (1951; dir. Jack Clayton).
DVD What Maise Knew (2012; dir. Scott McGehee and David Siegel).
DVD The Remains of the Day (1993; dir. James Ivory).
Femi Osofisan, Tegonni: An African Antigone.
Yaël Farber, Molora.

Note: English translations will be provided for the non-English materials.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


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

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal

Coordinator of studies:


No remarks.