English R1A

Reading and Composition: Shakespeare and Film

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Fall 2014 Liu, Aileen
TTh 8-9:30 222 Wheeler

Book List

Shakespeare, William: Henry IV, Part 1 ; Shakespeare, William: King Lear ; Shakespeare, William: Much Ado About Nothing ; Shakespeare, William: Romeo and Juliet ; Shakespeare, William: The Taming of the Shrew

Other Readings and Media


10 Things I Hate About You (1999, dir. Gil Junger), DVD X1044
West Side Story (1961, dir. Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins), DVD 1747
The Hollow Crown (2012, dir. Richard Eyre)
Much Ado About Nothing (1993, dir. Kenneth Branagh), DVD 349
King Lear (2008, dir. Trevor Nunn), DVD X3506


How do filmmakers translate Shakespeare from live theater to screen? How do Shakespeare’s tragedies, versus his comedies, versus his histories, lend themselves to or resist certain types of movie adaptation? Do some genres or plays work better on stage than the screen, and vice versa? (For that matter, do some plays work better on the page?) Do some plays only work on stage—and how would that modify our understanding of film and theater if we decided that were true?

To try to answer these questions, we will consider five of his plays (a sampling from each genre) and their filmic adaptations: The Taming of the Shrew with the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (1999); Romeo and Juliet and Bernstein/Sondheim’s Broadway musical West Side Story (1961); Henry IV, Part 1 with the recent, lavish BBC TV mini-series The Hollow Crown (2012); Much Ado About Nothing and Kenneth Branagh’s rom-com Much Ado About Nothing (1993); and King Lear and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear (2008), filmed and broadcast by the BBC.

With the exception of King Lear, any solid scholarly edition of Shakespeare will suffice (e.g. Riverside, Pelican, Signet, Folger, Arden, Norton), but having the Oxford Shakespeare editions that I've ordered will make it easier to follow along and reference in class. I require you to purchase the Oxford Shakespeare edition of King Lear, however, since different editions of that play can vary widely. All films are available to screen in the Media Resources Center in Moffitt Library.

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