This Rough Magic: enchantment in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest

Course Dates: 09/05/22 - 20/06/22
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Location: Keeley Street
At the end of The Tempest, Prospero announces that henceforth he will abandon the “rough magic” that has enabled him to guide, trick and torment his fellow characters. Shakespeare himself used magic to wonderful effect in two of his greatest plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest. How is magic used to bestow blessings and curses, and to shape the course of the plays? And how does Shakespeare use the greatest magic of all – the power of his language – to create this enchantment?
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Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £103.00 Concession £79.00

This course has now started

Course Code: HLT25

Started Mon, day, 09 May - 20 Jun '22

Duration: 6 sessions (over 7 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

We will be studying these two plays in terms of their ideas, characters and performance history and the rise and fall of their reputations over the centuries. How does Shakespeare’s use and vision of enchantment shift between the two – one early, one late? When is he simply trying to make us laugh - and when is he showing us something profound about how the magical infuses all our lives?

What will we cover?

We will be comparing these two plays with other works by Shakespeare in which magic and transformation play a part; we’ll be thinking about the nature of Shakespearean comedy; and we’ll have a chance to look at some of the variety of screen adaptations that have been made by Jonathan Miller, Derek Jarman and Peter Brook.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Recognise recurring themes in Shakespeare
• Relate these to the wider world of Western culture
• Feel confident enough to explore further study of related work on your own.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

All levels are welcome. For those who enjoy reading and discussing literature and are interested in sharing ideas and listening to the views of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course is an interactive mixture of tutor exposition and class discussion. Videos and clips will also be shown and discussed. You will asked to read the texts before the class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Students should buy or borrow the following texts:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Penguin Classics (ed Helen Hackett)
The Tempest Penguin Classics (ed Martin Butler)

Apart from the reading material, you should bring with pens, notepaper and file in which to store handouts and other course materials.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please see other Drama Text courses at under history, culture and writing/literature/drama.

Julian Birkett

Julian Birkett is a teacher and writer specialising in modern literature. He previously worked in the Arts department at the BBC as a producer of series such as The Late Show, Modern Poets in their Own Words, The Victorians and The Culture Show. He has taught in London and at the University of Mumbai.He aims to create a friendly but thoughtful atmosphere in his City Lit classes and to provide a stimulating variety of activities from tutor input to discussion to group work and video clips.

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.