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King's College London

Shakespeare: Print and Performance

King's College London via FutureLearn


Why do we continue to read and perform Shakespeare’s works around the world today? How were his plays performed and printed 400 years ago, and how has our conception of Shakespeare changed over the centuries?

King’s College London has partnered with Shakespeare’s Globe and the British Library to explore how Shakespeare’s works continue to delight audiences around the world.

Join academics, curators, publishers, actors, musicians and theatre directors, as we find out more about Shakespeare’s early modern world and consider his construction as a global icon today.

Go behind-the-scenes at The Globe

We will take you on to the stage of the Globe Theatre, to find out about performance practices both in the present day capital and in Early Modern London.

We’ll meet practitioners at the Globe and we’ll step into the world of the early modern actor to examine the processes and conditions that were at the heart of the Shakespearean playhouse.

Explore rarely-seen priceless manuscripts

The British Library has given us exclusive access to some some priceless manuscripts and early printed texts in their archives. We’ll also discover how the early modern book trade shaped the journey of Shakespeare’s text from stage to page.

Share your own insights with other learners

‘Global Shakespeares’ is one of the key themes which we will explore on the course. When you join Shakespeare: Print and Performance, you will become part of a diverse international learning community, and we will draw on everyone’s experiences of Shakespeare to enrich our discussion.

A curiosity and interest in William Shakespeare’s works are the only prerequisites you need to join this course!

Familiarity with Shakespeare’s works or prior study relating to Shakespeare will be helpful, though not essential.


  • Performing Shakespeares
    • Welcome to Week 1
    • Shakespeare as a global icon
    • Shakespeare in performance in the 21st century
    • Early modern London and the place of the stage
    • The early modern playhouse
    • Week 1 wrap-up
  • Early modern print
    • Welcome to week 2
    • Discover how the printing industry evolved
    • The journey of the text from stage to page
    • The sonnets and reading practices in the early modern period
    • Week 2 wrap-up
  • Shakespeare in print today
    • Welcome to week 3
    • A four hundred year journey: editing Shakespeare
    • Publishing Shakespeare in the 21st Century
    • How does editing shape performance?
    • Week 3 wrap-up
  • Global/local Shakespeares
    • Welcome to Week 4
    • The early modern actor
    • Early modern performance practices
    • Different approaches to performance today
    • Shakespeare on screen
    • Global Shakespeare
    • Closing comments

Taught by

Gordon McMullan and Sarah Lewis


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 251 ratings

Start your review of Shakespeare: Print and Performance

  • The work is engaging and interesting for lovers of theatre, literature, and (most importantly) Shakespeare! King's collaboration with the Globe Theatre and the British Library allowed for a mighty perusal of manuscripts related to him and his work that few courses online can offer. The material and assignments were engaging and numerous in number with passionate and helpful professors, teachers, etc. Not only did they shape my perception of Shakespeare and his work, but they also provided a better peek into the world of the actors, publishers, editors, and directors who work to preserve his legacy. The discussion boards are fairly active as well.
    Overall, it's a must! I loved this course!

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