Shakespeare’s Othello: The Moor

An examination of comedy and tragedy

Explore acts of storytelling in William Shakespeare's Othello alongside world-class artists who interpret Othello's story in new forms and contexts today.

Featuring faculty from:
4 weeks
5-7 hours a week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Start Shakespeare's Othello today.

What You'll Learn

In this course, we'll read William Shakespeare’s Othello and discuss the play from a variety of perspectives. The goal of the course is not to cover everything that has been written on Othello. Rather, it is to find a single point of entry to help us think about the play as a whole. Our entry point is storytelling.  We'll look at the ways in which Shakespeare's characters tell stories within the play––about themselves, to themselves, and to each other. We'll consider, too, how actors, directors, composers, and other artists tell stories through Othello in performance. By focusing on storytelling, we can see how the play grapples with larger issues including power, identity, and the boundary between fact and fiction. From lectures filmed on-location in Venice, London, and Stratford-upon Avon to conversations with artists, academics, and librarians at Harvard, students will have unprecedented access to a range of resources for "unlocking" Shakespeare's classic play.

The course will be delivered via edX and connect learners around the world. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Explore storytelling as a motif in Othello
  • Immerse yourself in 400 years of theatrical history
  • View rare books in Harvard's Houghton Library
  • Engage with Shakespearean dramaturgy and language 
  • Discover new operas, plays, and other works inspired by Othello

Your Instructor

Stephen Greenblatt is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of twelve books, including The Swerve: How the World Became Modern; Shakespeare's Freedom; Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Marvelous Possessions; and Renaissance Self-Fashioning. He is General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and of The Norton Shakespeare, has edited seven collections of criticism, and is a founding editor of the journal Representations.

Areas of expertise:

  • Shakespeare
  • Early Modern Literature and Culture
  • Literature of Travel and Exploration
  • Religion and Literature
  • Literature and Anthropology
  • Literary and Cultural Theory

Ways to take this course

When you enroll in this course, you will have the option of pursuing a Verified Certificate or Auditing the Course.

A Verified Certificate costs $149 and provides unlimited access to full course materials, activities, tests, and forums. At the end of the course, learners who earn a passing grade can receive a certificate. 

Alternatively, learners can Audit the course for free and have access to select course material, activities, tests, and forums. Please note that this track does not offer a certificate for learners who earn a passing grade.

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