letteratura inglese I llm 2013-14

Letteratura inglese I 2013-14 (9 cfu)

Prof. Marilena Parlati


Shakespeare and the Marriage Plot

We shall focus on the topic of comedy, and the ways in which Elizabethan playwrights adopt and adapt the mode of both classical comedy and more popular genres, such as farce. Some of the most well known among Shakespeare’s comic texts will be read from the perspective of the ‘marriage plot’ and festivity; in doing so, we shall encounter issues as varied as metamorphosis, gender and class confusion, and metatheatricality. Some of Shakespeare’s Sonnets will also be studied in order to verify the ways in which the sonnet tradition also refers as well as construes early modern cultural and literary approaches to the theme of love and marriage.

Apart from traditional lectures, there will be a one-hour weekly seminar, in which students will present their readings of some the critical works enlisted below.


Attendance to the module is compulsory, and will be checked. Attendance to the Unical Shakespeare 2016 Project is also mandatory for both first- and second-year students.

Already scheduled lectures:


Roy Eriksen (University of Agder, Norway), 26th March Shakespeare 2016

Renato Rizzoli (Università di Torino) 9th April Shakespeare 2016

Elisabetta Selmi (Università di Padova) April

Daniele Vianello (Università della Calabria) more details to follow


Other lectures are being organized and will be announced.




Primary Works


W. Shakespeare,         A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The Merchant of Venice

The Taming of the Shrew

The Tempest

Sonnets (20, 26, 49, 83, 129, 130, 138, 147)


Any edition, better The Oxford Shakespeare. The Complete Works, ed. by G. Taylor, S. Wells, Oxford University Press, 1st (1986) or 2nd edition (2005)


Secondary Works (not less important, of course)


M. de Grazia, S. Wells (eds), The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare, Cambridge, CUP, 2010 online resource for Bau users http://universitypublishingonline.org/cambridge/companions/ebook.jsf?bid=CBO9781139002868


A. Leggatt (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Comedy, 2001, online resource for Bau users



Specific essays on the various works by Shakespeare:

(all downloadable from JSTOR or MUSE)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

* Madeleine Forey, “‘Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee! Thou Art Translated!’: Ovid, Golding, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream“, The Modern Language Review, Vol. 93, No. 2 (Apr., 1998), pp. 321-329

* Margo Hendricks, “‘Obscured by dreams’: Race, Empire, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Spring, 1996), pp. 37-60

The Merchant of Venice

* Karen Newman, “Portia’s Ring: Unruly Women and Structures of Exchange in The Merchant of Venice”, Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring, 1987), pp. 19-33

* Janet Adelman, “Her Father’s Blood: Race, Conversion, and Nation in The Merchant of Venice”, Representations, Vol. 81, No. 1 (Winter 2003), pp. 4-30


The Taming of the Shrew

* Emily Detmer, “Civilizing Subordination: Domestic Violence and The Taming of the Shrew”, Shakespeare Quarterly, 48, 3, Autumn 1993, pp. 273-294 Jstor

* Coppélia Kahn, “The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare’s Mirror of Marriage”, Modern Language Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring, 1975), pp. 88-102


The Tempest

* Stephen Orgel, “Prospero’s Wife”, Representations, No. 8, Autumn, 1984, pp.1-13

* John Gillies, “’The Open Worlde’. The Exotic in Shakespeare”, in Shakespeare and The Geography of Difference, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 140-155 (photocopies of this chapter will be provided)



* Margreta de Grazia, “The Scandal of Shakespeare’s Sonnets”, Shakespeare Survey, 46, 1993, pp. 35-50

* Robert Matz, “The Scandals of Shakespeare’s Sonnets”, ELH, Volume 77, Number 2, Summer 2010, pp. 477-508


Additional bibliography for non-attending students

C.L. Barber, Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy: a Study in Dramatic Form and its Relation to Social Custom, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1990 (BAU)

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