Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Shakespeare: Genius and the Imagination

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit provides students with an introduction to historical and present understandings of Shakespeare’s pre-eminence in literature. It reflects on the nature of literary genius generally and of Shakespeare’s particularly, assessing the implications for the Western canon more broadly and for the conceptualisation of literary aesthetics.

Study-unit Aims:

- To introduce students to different perspectives on Shakespeare’s pre-eminence in English and Western literature;
- To allow discussion of the nature of literary genius;
- To identify texts and passages in Shakespeare that have contributed in particular ways to the critical consensus on his privileged place within English and Western literature;
- To study the affinities between Shakespeare and literary aesthetics;
- To help students appreciate the singularity of the Shakespearean imagination.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will:
- Be able to acchieve analytical familiarity different constructions of literary genius;
- Be able to approach Shakespeare, and the assumption of his greatness, with enhanced critical and comparative knowledge;
- Have an enhanced understanding of the nature, causes and durability of Shakespeare’s genius;
- Be able to appreciate the affinities between Shakespeare’s literary achievement and constructions of the idea of the literary imagination.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Write appreciatively but also critically about Shakespeare and his contemporaries;
- Build a strong case for Shakespeare’s literary pre-eminence, while also arguing in favour of the contrary case.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Jonathan Bate, The Genius of Shakespeare (London: Picador, 1997).
- Catherine Belsey, Why Shakespeare? (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
- Harold Bloom, The Western Canon (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994).
- Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare After All (New York: Pantheon Books, 2004).
- Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare and Modern Culture (New York: Pantheon Books, 2008).
- Frank Kermode, Shakespeare’s Language (London: Penguin, 2000).

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (1 Hour) SEM2 Yes 100%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.