Shakespeare's ghosts: Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar
Time: 10:15 - 12:15
This online Literature course explores Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar, taking a close look at the ghosts that feature in these plays – Old Hamlet, Banquo and Julius Caesar - as a way of investigating some of their wider themes and concerns, including memory, grief, revenge, agency, power, ambition, guilt and the psyche.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HLT164
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
What is the course about?
The course will investigate how Shakespeare uses ghosts in Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar, and consider them in the light of contemporary ideas and beliefs about apparitions. That will lead us to explore some of the wider concerns of these plays – including memory, grief, revenge, agency, power, ambition, guilt and the psyche. We will pay close attention to Shakespeare’s language, drawing upon a range of critical perspectives. We will also consider how performance might inform our responses to these plays.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
We will consider the ambiguous nature of the ghost of Hamlet’s father in the light of post-Reformation culture, and develop our understanding of how the play explores the psychology of memory, grief and revenge.
Considering the significance of Banquo’s ghost in Macbeth will lead us to explore personal agency and the supernatural - including the ‘weird sisters’ or witches - in the play.
Thinking about the ghost of Julius Caesar will help us to develop further our understanding of Shakespeare’s apparitions, and the ways in which play explores ambition, guilt, acts of interpretation and the persuasive language of power.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Have an increased understanding and appreciation of the ways in which ghosts function in these plays.
• Have an increased understanding and appreciation of some of the wider themes and concerns of the plays, including memory, grief, revenge, agency, power, ambition, guilt and the psyche.
• Have an increased understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s language.
• Have an increased understanding and appreciation of these plays in performance.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is open to all; you do not need to have prior knowledge to participate.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will be taught online through close reading of textual extracts, visual slide presentations, video clips and class discussion.
Please read and/or watch Hamlet before the first class. Thereafter, it is strongly recommended that you read or watch each text before the relevant class for maximum enjoyment. A handout of key extracts for discussion will be provided online shortly before the course starts.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need to be able to read Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. You can use any edition (as a handout of key extracts for discussion will be provided for easy reference in class); the Arden editions are recommended. Extracts for discussion and online links to recommended clips from productions (where these are available) will be provided in class handouts.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other Drama Text to Performance courses under History, Culture and Writing/Literature at www.citylit.ac.uk.
Sophie has taught Literature, Performing Arts and Interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities for over twenty years, working for the Open University, Leeds University, and a range of Adult Learning Institutions before joining City Lit. Previously she freelanced as a theatre and opera director in community theatre and at English National Opera. She has an MA in Nineteenth Century English and American Literature, and a PhD in Early Modern Life Writing. She brings both experience and enthusiasm to her work with adult audiences.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.