“Branding Billy” A Shakespeare Summer Study Tour

St. Mary’s College’s Maryland State Public Honors College will be hosting “Branding Billy,” a Shakespeare study tour to Stratford-upon-Avon, England from June 6-27, 2016.

Swagspeare. Illustration by James Steinberg for Boston Globe Magazine. Courtesy of St. Mary's College http://www.jennifercognard-black.com/teaching-shakespeare

Swagspeare. Illustration by James Steinberg for Boston Globe Magazine. Courtesy of St. Mary’s College http://www.jennifercognard-black.com/teaching-shakespeare


“This is an upper-division honors college course offered for four English or Theatre credits through St. Mary’s College, the Maryland Public Honors College located in Historic St. Mary’s City. Honors students in good standing at other colleges and universities are welcome and encouraged to apply.

This course consists of on-site study in Stratford-upon-Avon of the relevance of Shakespeare’s work to modern audiences, emphasizing unique thematic and cultural interpretations which broaden students’ understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s plays. The course content is directly linked to world-class performances of Shakespeare’s plays and other Renaissance dramas (typically six per trip) currently in production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and at the Globe Theatre, and it includes post-performance talk-back sessions with Royal Shakespeare Company actors and directors, a documents display with archivists from the Shakespeare Centre Library, as well as museum visits and lectures with world-renowned Shakespeare scholars.

This year’s course is thematically focused on the “branding” of Shakespeare, a theme of particular interest in the year of 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. In addition to a study of Shakespeare and his words in translation on the stage, this study tour considers the importance of consumption as represented in Shakespeare’s plays as well as how Shakespeare has been ‘consumed’ through commodity and culinary cultures, particularly in his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Beginning with moments of commodity exchange and food imagery within Shakespeare’s own plays, students will further consider consumption as a metaphor for writing and staging Renaissance drama as well as for modern novels, narratives, and cookbooks produced under the Shakespeare brand.

Course Feature Include:

  • Interactive class meetings with actors currently on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST)
  • Admission to the plays in production at the RST Main Stage and Swan Theatres as well as additional theatrical field trips and performances at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London
  • Excursions to the Shakespeare Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s maternal family estate at Mary Arden’s farm, and other Stratford-area properties of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
  • Guest lectures by world-renowned Shakespeare scholars which in part have included Stanley Wells (editor of The Complete Oxford Shakespeare), Sylvia Morris (head of the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archives), and Robert Smallwood (honorary fellow of the Shakespeare Institute, past head of education of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and editor of the Cambridge U.P. Players of Shakespeare series)
  • Backstage tours of the RST Main Stage and Swan Theatres
  • Workshops with RST production crew such as those involved with wigs and makeup
  • Workshops with RST voice coaches, choreographers, and/or technical theatre professionals
  • Additional excursions that in the past have included visits to Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle ruins, Oxford, and London
  • Archival presentation from, and access to, the collections of rare books and manuscripts, including the First Folio, director’s notes, production skills, play programmes, and other RST paraphernalia housed in the Shakespeare Centre Library

All majors are welcome, and no special prerequisite coursework is required other than the successful completion of an entry-level college writing course. We have a tradition of including students with diverse majors such as math, physics, history, anthropology, sociology, and economics, and we look forward to carrying on the tradition with all those interested in learning more about Shakespeare, his words, his world, and the magic that happens when actors take to the stage and breathe life into his characters.”

Additional course information, alumni testimonials, and photos from prior courses can be found online at their Shakespeare Studies in Britain course website.

Application Deadline: Friday, January 22, 2016


Billable Cost Payable to St. Mary’s College: $5,580* (includes tuition, round-trip air fare with the group from a Washington, DC area airport, RT ground transportation from the airport to Stratford-upon-Avon and for all group excursions, B&B accomidations (including breakfast daily), several group dinners, museum entrances, all play tickets, all lectures and worships, and room/board at St. Mary’s College for the pre-depature meetings at St. Mary’s College from June 6-10, 2016.

*Price subject to change depending on fluctuation in the prevailing exchange rate, but we endeavor to honor the publicized price, and we have not had to change fees in the past years.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jennifer Cognard-Black at jcognard@smcm.edu or Dr. Andrew Cognard-Black at ajcognardblack@smcm.edu