Universität Wien FIND

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to courses and exams may be necessary at short notice (e.g. cancellation of on-site teaching and conversion to online exams). Register for courses/exams via u:space, find out about the current status on u:find and on the moodle learning platform. NOTE: Courses where at least one unit is on-site are currently marked "on-site" in u:find.

Further information about on-site teaching and access tests can be found at https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

Warning! The directory is not yet complete and will be amended until the beginning of the term.

123221 SE Literary Seminar / BA Paper / MA British/Irish/New English (2021S)

Shakespeare's Venetian Plays: _The Merchant of Venice_ and _Othello_ (literature)

11.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first serve).


max. 18 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Tuesday 14:15-15:45 online
Starts on: 09.03.2021

Due to the ongoing public health situation, this course will be taught online.

Tuesday 09.03. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 16.03. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 23.03. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 13.04. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 20.04. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 27.04. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 04.05. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 11.05. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 18.05. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 01.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 08.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 15.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 22.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Tuesday 29.06. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

Due to the ongoing public health situation, this course will be taught online. All scholarly articles will be made available on Moodle. There is no need for you to come into Department while it may not be safe to do so.

In this seminar we are going to discuss William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (1596/99) and Othello (1603), which not only share part of their setting - the early modern Serenissima, despite its small size, was a major centre of trade (mainly with the East) as well as a mighty naval power and thus a competitor with/mirror of England in two respects - but also their focus on othering/the other. The early modern period had a different notion of what 'race' was than the one propagated by so-called scientific racism, which emerged in the 19th century and keeps influencing discourse until today, so we are going to look into this earlier, cultural understanding of 'race'. The early modern period also had a notion of gender that differs from our understanding of it in the 21st century, and so, again, we are going to compare the two. Moreover, we are going to discuss how 'race' and gender intersect and interact in these plays. Only a part of this course, however, is going to be dedicated to the literary texts, as we are also going to analyse two films and two recent stage productions.

There will be a text knowledge quiz for each play, one for one of the films and for one of the stage versions. You will be able to fill in each quiz at home, using your Arden Shakespeare, the Drama Online database. The responsibility to get hold of the two films lies with you. Please send each filled-in quiz as a pdf-file attachment via email before the start of the lesson in which we will start discussing the respective play/film/stage version. NB: Any quiz sent in after the relevant class has started, will remain unmarked, which means you won't be able to collect points on it.

Specialist model:
There will be no monological student presentations in this class. Instead, you are expected to act as a specialist for one lesson of the term, either alone or as a member of a team, depending on the number of participants. How exactly this works in terms of timing, what will be expected of you and what a 'prep mail', 'the double-feedback-loop' and a 'golden nugget' is, in all of which you are going to participate, I shall explain in detail in the first lesson. You'll be expected to provide a powerpoint presentation as an accompaniment to your specialist task.

Assessment and permitted materials

Regular attendance (online); regular and appropriate preparation of assigned reading material; specialist task; active participation in following discussion (online); 4 plot-quizzes (sent in as pdf email attachment; final paper (sent in as .doc to sylvia.mieszkowski@univie.ac.at and uploaded as .pdf onto Turnitin).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

No more than two lessons may be missed without certified medical reason. If a doctor's note is produced, a third lesson may be missed but is to be compensated for at the teacher's discretion. If more than three lessons are missed, this results in failing the course.

Quiz 1: 2,5%
Quiz 2: 2,5%
Quiz 3: 2,5%
Quiz 4: 2,5%
Active participation in discussion: 10%
Specialist task: 30%
Term paper: 50%

Points must be collected in all of these areas to pass. The benchmark for passing this course is at 60%.

Marks in %:
1 (very good): 90-100%
2 (good): 81-89%
3 (satisfactory): 71-80%
4 (pass): 60-70%
5 (fail): 0-59%

The term papers/BA theses will be marked according to the following categories: form; content; methodology; quality of thesis; language; style.

The written work has to be accompanied by a signed and dated anti-plagiarism statement, sent by email as a .pdf file. The written work itself (6500-8000 words for a term paper; 8500-10000 words for a BA thesis) is to be uploaded through the TurnItIn system as well as sent (as a .doc file) via email to me: sylvia.mieszkowski@univie.ac.at.

Examination topics

There will be no written exam.

Reading list

Books to buy:

The following texts (Arden Edition) have been ordered for you at Facultas (book shop on Campus). Please drop by to collect them or ask whether they can deliver to your home address.

- William Shakespeare, Othello [ISBN:978-1472571762]
- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice [ISBN:978-1903436813]

Films to buy/rent/find/watch:

- Oliver Parker, Othello (1995)
- Michael Radford, The Merchant of Venice (2004)

Theatre Productions to watch via Drama Online:

- The Royal Shakespeare Company, Othello (2015), dir. Iqbal Khan


- The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Merchant of Venice (2015), dir. Polly Findlay


Other critical editions are acceptable, too, if you are already in possession of a copy of one of the plays (no translations, though!), but if you are buying, please buy the Arden, so we will - literally - all be on the same page.

Texts on Moodle:
All secondary reading, that is, critical texts on the plays to be discussed and their cultural/political/historical/social contexts will be made available at the beginning of term as pdf files on Moodle.

Preparatory background reading:
If you read German, whenever dealing with Shakespeare, this should be your first port of call, if you need to get a good general idea: Ina Schabert (ed.), Shakespeare Handbuch, Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner Verlag, 2000. Please familiarise yourselves with the respective entries on the four plays we are going to discuss. They, too, will be available as pdf-files on Moodle. A good second place to start reading is the introduction to every one of the four plays in question, which forms a substantial part of every Arden edition. These intros are generally lengthy affairs, but their internal structure makes it easy to select which parts might be more relevant for the purpose at hand than others.

Association in the course directory

Studium: BA 612, MA 844; MA 844(2)
Code/Modul: BA10.2, MA4, MA7; MA 4.1, 4.2
Lehrinhalt: 12-0449

Last modified: We 21.04.2021 11:26