NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

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Course Descriptions

Shakespeare + Pop Culture

ENGL 2000

Shakespeare & Pop Culture introduces students to the art, i.e., the advantages, the challenges, limitations, and complications, of adapting Shakespeare for the stage and the screen. The plays we will study are Titus Andronicus, Hamlet, Henry V, and Macbeth. Importantly, our emphasis will be with performances, not the text. I, therefore, ask that you subscribe to Amazon Prime to stream or purchase productions at $2.99-$29.99. Note, please, that some films are available on DVD only. The list of movies that are required for this course can be found below. In addition to the movies and theatre productions whose viewing and interpretation we will share, you are encouraged to discover and explore your own plays and their adaptations—either expanding the list provided above or moving beyond it to plays, productions, media, online platforms, social media, and adaptations we do not cover in class.


This course will be of benefit to teachers teaching Shakespeare, as it will introduce a range of potential texts that could be used in the classrooms and detail the issues involved in a teaching Shakespeare. One of the most common methods of teaching Shakespeare is to bring in filmed adaptations, in order to help students better manage the language and understand staging conventions.  This course will help teachers to develop an understanding of the films and to develop classroom content through viewing journals, discussion prompts,  and collaborative discussions of play text and film.

At the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Utilize critical viewing and reading skills in a variety of genres and mediums
  • Develop a confident command of both literary and filmic terminology
  • Interpret and analyze Shakespearean adaptations in a variety of genres and mediums
  • Read and write competently about Shakespearean adaptations
  • Historicize early modern drama and contemporary Shakespeare adaptations


 Adaptations available on DVD only:

  • Titus (Julie Taymor, 1999)—available for purchase (DVD only) on Amazon for $9.99
  • Hamlet (Zeffirelli, 1990)—available for purchase (DVD only) on Amazon for $18.99
  • Henry V (Branagh, 1989)—available for purchase (DVD only) on Amazon for $29.99
  • Scotland, PA (Morrissette, 2001)—available for purchase (DVD only) on Amazon for $14.99
  • PBS Great Performances: Macbeth (Goold, 2010)—available for purchase (DVD only) for $13.98 on Amazon

Primary Texts:

  • William Shakespeare. Titus Andronicus, Henry V, Hamlet, and Macbeth.
  • The Cambridge Shakespeare Series is useful, because editions cover adaptations in their introductions.
  • The Norton Shakespeare or Longman Cultural Editions are useful alternatives that impress either through their editorial notes or their historical materials. However, you may use any well-annotated and well-edited version of Shakespeare’s plays. Libraries usually offer several versions of all plays; be vigilant and pick one with good notes.

Secondary Texts:

  • Mary Ellen Dakin. Reading Shakespeare: Films First. NCTE, 2012. ISBN: 9780814139073 (on Amazon for $34.99)
  • Russell Jackson. Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema. OUP, 2014. ISBN: 9780199659463 (on Amazon for $27.95)

Recommended Supplementary Materials:

  • MLA Handbook or access to the Purdue OWL and a reliable glossary of literary and filmic terms; the Yale Film Analysis website is very useful also: http://filmanalysis.yctl.org/

Available online via the NDSU Library Systems:

  • Digital Theatres Plus --  This resources contains high quality theatre productions of some of our plays, but—more importantly—it offers interviews from actors, designers, stage managers, etc. as well as workshops, theory, and criticism of plays and productions.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film -- We have all of the Cambridge Companion available online; individual play editions might likewise be of interest to you.

Amazon Prime Membership
for the duration of the course ($39 for 3 months) so that you may stream the following adaptations:

  • Hamlet (Olivier, 1948)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $2.99
  • Hamlet (Almereyda, 2000)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $1.99
  • Henry V (Olivier, 1944)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $2.99
  • Chimes at Midnight (Wells, 1965)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $2.99
  • My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime & YouTube for $2.99
  • The Hollow Crown 1.4:  Henry V (Sharrock, 2012)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $2.99
  • Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, 1957)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $2.99
  • Macbeth (Polanski, 1971)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $2.99
  • Shakespeare Re-told 1.2: Macbeth (Moffat, 2005)—available for streaming via Amazon Prime for $1.99

Support & Suggestions:

Campus Resources

NDSU Main Library: You will need to familiarize yourself with how libraries work as you conduct your research for your papers and your presentations. NDSU’s library provides online access to Project Muse, JSTOR, ProQuest Direct, the MLA Bibliography, the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), and the Cambridge Companions to Literature.

NDSU Media Library: The entire PBS Shakespeare collection is available at NDSU. Because they all adhere closely to the text, they are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with a play before you venture your own interpretations or view more loosely or creatively  produced adaptations, such as the films we watch together.

Digital Theatre Plus: Available through the NDSU Library databases, this resources will provide useful interviews, workshops, and critical resources that will aid you in your study of Shakespearean adaptations this summer.

Online Streaming Resources: Subscriptions to such services as Netflix, Vimeo, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or YouTube will help you stay on top of viewing this semester.

Minard 318 E40: I am in my office or somewhere in or around Minard Hall on the NDSU main campus quite a bit. If you have questions about assignments, please come and see me. Often, my door is only slightly ajar: that means that I’m a) listening to music, b) previewing a film, or c) avoiding hallway distractions. But I’m there, and you are welcome to knock.