Course syllabus




SEMESTER 1, 2019

30 points

 2018 English 709 flyer with logo......-1.jpg

Course Convenor and Teacher: Dr Sophie Tomlinson

Humanities Building.

Level 6, Room 635

Phone 373 7599, ext. 87345

Office hours: TBC

Course delivery format:

 3-hour weekly seminar: Tuesdays 9am -12pm. 

Well-being always comes first

We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.

Course Description:  

Theatrical performance and dramatic composition present alluring subjects for modern cinema. Theatre on Screen examines a range of mainstream and art house films which create commercial and aesthetic appeal by engaging the shifting line between art and life, reality and theatre. Students are encouraged to draw on their varied academic backgrounds to investigate questions pertaining to theatre and theatricality in the set films and their source materials, and in particular to become ‘film literate’. We address critical themes via the analysis of films, screenplays, plays, novels, and critical articles. These themes include: imagining period theatre; spectatorship; gender and sexuality; theatre as a business; theatre and politics; the role of music; adaptation. In 2019 we focus on three overlapping genres: Shakespeare on screen; the backstage drama; and theatre, sexuality and politics.

Course goals:

To become what Vincent Lobrutto calls, ‘film literate’, in particular to become aware of different directors’ use of shot, scene and sequence, which contributes to their distinctive film rhetorics.

To grow confident in expressing your ideas orally to the group, specifically in the form of starting-questions and a seminar for assessment.

To refine the expression of your ideas in writing by conducting a critical argument in the form of two essays for assessment.

To acquire competence in using printed and digital research tools relevant to the works studied.

Assessment Summary: 100 % coursework

 2 x starting-questions (10%)

Oral seminar (15%)

Short essay 3,500-4,000 words (25%)

Long essay, 6000 words (50%)

Prescribed Viewing:

Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)
West Side Story (1961);
Cabaret (1972) 
Mephisto (1981) 
Shakespeare in Love (1998) 
The Merchant of Venice (Dir. Nunn, 2001) 
The Maori Merchant of Venice / Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Wēniti (Dir. Selwyn, 2002) 
The Merchant of Venice (Dir. Radford, 2004)

 Prescribed Texts:

Christopher Isherwood, The Berlin Novels (Vintage)
Klaus Mann, Mephisto (1936), transl. Robyn Smyth* (Penguin, 1995) 
Jacques Prévert, Les Enfants du Paradis, transl. Dinah Brooke (via Canvas)
Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman, Shakespeare in Love (Hyperion, 1999) 
Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, ed. Bate and Rasmussen (Macmillan, 2010).

*Robyn Smyth's Penguin translation of Mephisto is out of print, but there are used copies available online.

Recommended Texts: 

Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide (2008)
Russell Jackson, Theatres on Film: How the Cinema Imagines the Stage (2013)*

* I do not expect you to buy a copy of this expensive book, which will be made available via the library.


You are expected to attend and participate in all seminars having viewed and read the set films and texts beforehand. As assessment is wholly through coursework, you are expected to attend all classes. If unable to attend, please email me beforehand.

Requirements for presentation of coursework:

Assignments must be word-processsed in black, 12-point font with DOUBLE spacing between lines and a minimum 6 cm left-hand margin. Each page should be numbered and carry your name in the top right-hand corner. Please print on one side of the paper only and staple securely.


Your essays MUST be properly referenced according to either the Chicago or MLA style guide.

Procedures for submission of coursework

Students must place a hardcopy of their assignments in the EDWS assignment box at the Arts Student Centre, using the bar-coded cover sheet generated on CANVAS, and also submit an electronic copy of their assignments to through CANVAS. Both electronic and hardcopy submissions must be made before the assignment deadline expires. Marks for all assignments are provisional until they have been submitted electronically to turnitin.


Policy on Extensions and Late Assignments

EDWS requires the timely submission of all coursework. If you are unable to hand in an assignment by the due date, you MUST put your case for an extension to me, preferably via a face-to-face meeting. Extensions are granted only for compelling reasons, and evidence testifying to the cause of the need for an extension may need to be provided.  An extension must be requested in advance of the due date for the assignment, unless there is a genuine cause preventing this, in which case the extension should be sought as soon as is practicable after the due date.

 Any work handed in late without an extension will not be marked. Please make a note of this.


Relevant Internet Sites

Film Index International Online (available through our library)

Internet Movie Database

Internet Movie Script Database

British Film Institute Site

Rotten Tomatoes


Timetable of seminars posted separately on Canvas




Generic Information

Plagiarism: please note the following University policy:

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence.  The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting his or her learning.  Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the world-wide web. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against electronic source material using computerised detection mechanisms.  Upon reasonable request, students may be required to provide an electronic version of their work for computerised review.

Appeal and complaint procedures

Any student who wishes to appeal a grade on an assignment must make a written submission to the lecturer detailing the grounds on which the appeal is made (i.e. identifying the academic merit of the essay which they believe has been overlooked). Please be aware that all assignments that receive a fail grade or borderline pass are automatically double-marked by the external assessor for the course.

For information about complaint procedures please consult the AUSA web site

Announcements and Resources for this paper are regularly posted on CANVAS.

The University’s policy is that all communication with students is via their university email address—please check your university email address regularly.



Course summary:

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