Shakespeare and Contemporaries


Course Objective

After passing this course, you will:

- be skilled at reading early modern literary texts;
- be familiar with key aspects of the (cultural) history of early modern
- be able to relate the literary text to aspects of the historical
- be able to reflect on the ways this relation has been thought in
literary theory.

Course Content

The overarching question we will be exploring in this course is "How
does literature relate to its historical context"? The question asks
after the relationships between art and power, between text and history,
between aesthetics and ideology. In this course, we will be probing this
question in the context of one of the most fascinating historical time
frames - the early modern period. We will engage with the literary
theory of 'new historicism' to approach this question.

In the period we will be focusing on, roughly from the second half of
the sixteenth century to the beginning of the 'long eighteenth century',
England first encountered many of the bigger issues that the world is
still grappling with today: globalization, colonization, capitalism,
ecological crisis, gender trouble, urbanization, to name but a few. It
was also a period of momentous religious change, civil wars, and the
beheading of a monarch. We will examine how early modern literary texts
relate to this historical context.

Teaching Methods

Seminars; 6 hours per week.

Method of Assessment

The final grade for this course is based on Canvas assignments (50%) and
a final exam (50%). You need to have a pass grade (5.5 or higher) for
your final exam in order to pass the course.

Entry Requirements

Students must have taken part in the modules "Genre and Literary
Analysis" and “Shakespeare on Film.”


To be announced.

Target Audience

This module is part of the Bachelor’s program English Literature &

Additional Information

The seminars require your active participation; attendance in the course
seminars is therefore compulsory. If you are absent at more than 3
seminars (20%), you cannot pass the course. Exceptions may be made in
grave personal circumstances. Make sure to inform both your lecturer and
the academic advisor in such cases.

Custom Course Registration

There is a slightly different enrollment procedure for this module. The standard procedure of the Faculty of Humanities has students sign up for (i) the module, (ii) the preferred seminar group, and (iii) the exam. However, for this module the instructor will assign the students to the seminar groups. Therefore, students should sign up for (i) the module and (iii) the exam, but not for (ii) the seminar groups.

Recommended background knowledge

The required level of English in this course is high. Students must be
familiar with the basics of literary analysis and know their literary
terminology. The courses 'Genre and Literary Analysis' and 'Shakespeare
on Film' in the first year of the programme Literature & Society:
English train the reading skills that we will further develop in this

General Information

Course Code L_ELBALES212
Credits 6 EC
Period P4
Course Level 200
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. K. Steenbergh
Examiner dr. K. Steenbergh
Teaching Staff dr. K. Steenbergh

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Practical, Seminar*

*You cannot select a group yourself for this teaching method, you will be placed in a group.

Target audiences

This course is also available as: