On Collaborating with Shakespeare’s Globe: Reflections on the Future of Postgraduate English

  • Gordon McMullan


In this chapter, I will offer an account of the history of a taught postgraduate degree—the MA in Shakespeare Studies that has been offered jointly for over a decade by the Department of English at King’s College London and Globe Education, the teaching and research wing of Shakespeare’s Globe.1 This case study is designed to illuminate a range of issues about the pedagogical possibilities of collaboration at Master’s level between universities and cultural/creative organisations, as well as some of the challenges associated with such partnerships, and I hope it will be of interest to everyone with an interest in the future of postgraduate study in the arts and humanities. Citing interviews with former students and with employees of Globe Education, I will consider the experience of the students taking the degree, studying as they are in the context of a university on the one hand and of a theatre on the other, a theatre that is in multiple ways remarkable—for its extraordinary level of educational activity, for its status as a major London creative organisation operating independently of public funding and for the postmodern ‘early modern’ building that is both the basis of its attraction for the public and the ongoing object of scholarly debate. Ten years is a lengthy period for a taught Master’s degree to survive— enough time, I hope, to enable me to do three things in this chapter: to reflect in as unbiased a way as I can manage (within the limits of such a claim) on the value and impact of a degree taught collaboratively by a university and a theatre, on the intersection it represents between higher education and the cultural industries, on the global nature of the annual cohort it attracts, on the extent to which the collaboration might or might not be replicated or adapted for other institutional and geographical conditions, and on the implications of the collaborationfor the definition of English as a university subject, particularly in the context of the limited definition of ‘impact’ that determines an increasing proportion of access to public funding for UK higher education institutions.


English Department Pedagogical Possibility Shakespearean Drama Sydney Opus Royal Opus 
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  1. Carson, C. and Karim-Cooper, F. (eds) (2008) Shakespeare’s Globe: A Theatrical Experiment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  2. Shaughnessy, R. (2006) ‘Foreword’ in Conkie, R. The Globe Theatre Project: Shakespeare and Authenticity (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press).Google Scholar

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© Gordon McMullan 2016

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  • Gordon McMullan

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