English 9180B

Mediating Hamlet

Instructor: Professor M.J. Kidnie.
Winter Half Course.

This half-course is focused on a single play because it seeks to engage intensively with fields of study that will probably be new to many of our students. It will provide a grounding in textual studies, in particular, that students working outside of early modern drama will be able to transfer to their own area of research.

The course has three primary learning objectives. First, it will introduce students to the theatrical and printing-house practices by means of which Shakespeare’s drama achieved publication. Hamlet, of course, is a particularly knotty problem as it survives in three quite distinctive early textual versions. Theories of draft versions and authorial (and possibly theatrical) revision will be explored in light of evidence provided by the three textual witnesses and ongoing critical interpretation. Students will then gauge how recent print and online editors have chosen to mediate these early texts for modern reading audiences. The third objective of this course is to target the play’s transfer to stage and film in terms of adaptation studies and performance theory as these fields bear specifically on early modern drama. We will address issues of interpretation and reception throughout the course, and consider whether – and how – to draw distinctions between a work we might want to call Hamlet and adaptations of it.