Staging Shakespeare's Comedies with EFL University Students

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This thesis takes as its point of departure an elective course in English: 'Drama in Practice - Shakespeare on Stage'. The course combines theory and practice in that it contains (on the one hand) lectures and written work about one of Shakespeare’s comedies, and (on the other hand) an on-stage part with rehearsals of the same play, culminating in a performance, in costume, before an audience. The performance is the ‘oral exam’, but the students receive their grade on the basis of the written work; both parts are necessary for the students to receive their credits for the course.
In the thesis introduction, the history of stage-and-page Shakespeare is traced, and a brief account of various courses on and theories about teaching Shakespeare through performance is given. An attempt to place the course ‘Drama in Practice – Shakespeare on Stage’ within this framework is made, with particular emphasis on the ‘hyphenated’ quality of the models that it strives to follow.
The thesis then describes the stages and development of the course through its existence over the last decade, during which time it has been given thirteen times. Each chapter except the last constitutes a separate account of the work on one play for two (usually consecutive) terms; in chronological order, they are A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Taming of the Shrew. The last chapter then rounds off the account by taking the reader back to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, revisited nearly ten years later and taught again to a new group of students after the same model, but with the experience and knowledge of the previous decade applied to it.
Summing up the things learned from working with Shakespeare’s plays according to this model, the conclusion also contains a discussion of the learning outcomes of the course – both the intended learning outcomes (among other things, improvements in English proficiency as well as in cultural literacy) and the emergent learning outcomes, as gathered from the last instalment of the students’ written work. Particularly notable in this post-performance instalment is the surge in self-confidence to which many of the students testify. The enthusiasm for and understanding of Shakespeare’s work which the students gain from having worked with a play by Shakespeare ‘from the inside’ combines with a sense of ownership which is remarkable, demonstrating that in the perpetual quest to find new ways of teaching Shakespeare’s plays to new generations of students, this method is a valid contender.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Humanities


  • Love's Labour's Lost, teaching Shakespeare through performance, Shakespeare in performance, drama in practice, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2012 May 5
  • Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2012-05-05 Time: 10:15 Place: Hörsalen, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Maslen, Robert Title: Dr Affiliation: University of Glasgow ---