King’s / Globe Theatre Text & Playhouse MA – A Case Study
In its academic practice, English has always enjoyed close links between research and teaching, most obviously through the various ways in which research has had a continual effect on curriculum revisions. For its work in this project therefore, the Subject Centre is electing to explore the major dimension of the intellectual interchange between teaching and research in their broad manifestations. This interchange is at the centre of the current powerful defence of the links between research and teaching, which understands their concomitant relationship as a definition of Higher Education itself:
I don’t think that teaching unsupported by research can be called university teaching. The function of universities is to advance our understanding of the world and to pass it on to the students. If you don’t have that engine of inquiry, teaching will be derivative, not first hand. (Alan Smithers, cited in Lucy Hodges‘Charles Clarke vs the universities’, The Independent Education, 9th Jan. 2003, 6.)
In order to demonstrate that English is a research-intensive subject, the English Subject Centre has chosen to highlight the work of one particular course, the MA in Shakespeare Studies: Text and Playhouse run jointly by the English Department at King’s College, University of London and the Globe Theatre. The work of this particular programme is placed into a broader context to show how its practices relate to the discipline as a whole.
The aim of this initiative is to indicate the integral nature of the links between research and teaching through this very practical example. The Text and Playhouse MA concentrates on Shakespeare’s dramatic texts, and the manner of their performance in the Globe theatre. This MA is heavily informed by two forms of scholarly research, textual studies and performance practice. The students are encouraged to conduct their own primary research using the resources of the Globe theatre. Similarly the lecturers at Kings, who are involved in this programme, have taken the opportunity to test their own textual theories on the Globe stage. Both Professor Ann Thompson and Dr. Gordon McMullan, who run the course for King’s, have used elements of the performance aspects of the course in editing editions of the New Arden Shakespeare. This programme is not unique in its partnership with a theatre company, but is distinctive in that the theatre company has employed a full-time academic (Dr Gabriel Egan) partly to run the course. This programme, therefore, presents a tremendous example of the interplay of teaching and research both for students and for established scholars.
The following materials will constitute the outcomes of this project, all of which will be published through dedicated pages on this website.
- Interviews with the principal participants in the programme, Professor Ann Thompson, Dr. Gordon McMullan, Dr. Gabriel Egan and Patrick Spottiswoode.
- A brief published report on the history of the course’s development and an account of how this programme’s development is situated in relation to existing and developing practice elsewhere in the country.
- Two student accounts of the experience of the course, examining how an understanding of the links between research and teaching were enhanced.
- Examples of ways in which the workshop activity is producing new research evidence.
- Visual displays of some of the primary sources (e.g. early books, texts, theatrical ephemera etc.)
- Images of the plays in performance at the Globe Theatre.
- Visual materials detailing the course’s concern with the nature of the text (e.g. Hamlet)
- A virtual model of the Globe Theatre.
- Video clips of live teaching/performance in the Globe space.
The overall objective of this case study exercise is to document the development process of this innovative programme, to illustrate the concrete links made between teaching and research and to interrogate the usefulness of this approach for others working in the discipline of English. Above all the project hopes to underline the essential nature of the links between teaching and research for those working in Humanities disciplines such as English.
Project Website & Related Links
- The website for this project is available to view
- The Globe Theatre
- King’s College – MA in Shakespearean Studies: Text & Playhouse
Dr Christie Carson
Royal Holloway, University of London
Partners: The Globe Theatre
January 2003 – September 2003