Skip to Content


ophelia and hamlet

This course will focus on two tragedies from the peak of Shakespeare's career that have had an enormous impact on modern theater and cinema: namely, Hamlet and King Lear.  Neither originates with Shakespeare, so our first order of business will be to explore the sources from which he borrowed: what did he retain and what did he change?  Why did his alterations make such a difference that we now associate both characters almost exclusively with his name?  The second issue involves the specific texts of the plays that we have today: even if we restrict ourselves to Shakespeare's Hamlet and Lear, those have come down to us in multiple, radically divergent versions.  Which one of them should we read?  Is one more authentically "Shakespearean" than another?  How can you tell?  Lastly we'll explore each play's extensive afterlife in film, watching representative clips from major adaptations, featuring Ian McKellen, Kenneth Branagh, and Lawrence Olivier, among others.  Why do these plays continue to speak to us so powerfully today, after more than four hundred years?

enrn 3230: shakespearean tragedy

3 credits


John Parker, Associate Professor Department of English

Course Dates:

June 2 - June 13, 2014

Course Times

10:00 - 3:00


Virginia Resident

Tuition $334 per Credit
Summer Fee  
Virginia Resident Total

Non Virginia Resident

Tuition $1,176.00 per Credit
Summer Fee  
Non-Virginia Total Costs



John O'Brien, Associate Professor
University of Virginia Department of English