You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing

2. Nothing and Noting and No-Thing, and Wit

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the various connotations of the word “nothing” in the title. In one sense, we might see the play has being about “nothing”—there is no unchastity and no death. But is this also a play about “noting”, about who sees what and who knows what, and also about “no-thing”, which would have meant something quite specific to the Elizabethan audience.


In this course, Professor John Lennard explores Shakespeare’s most urban comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. As we move through the course, we think about a number of issues, including: the setting of the play and its impact on the action; the potential meanings of “nothing” in the title; the characters of Beatrice and Benedick, their relationship with one another and what they reveal about the other older characters in the play; the mock death; and the characters of Don John and Dogberry.


Born in Bristol, and educated at Oxford and St Louis, Dr John Lennard has taught English, American, and Commonwealth Literature in Cambridge, London, and Jamaica over more than twenty years. He has written two widely used textbooks (on poetry and drama) and monographs on Shakespeare, Paul Scott, Nabokov, and Faulkner, as well as two collections of essays on contemporary genre writers in crime, science fiction and fantasy, and romance. Enthusiastic, discursive, widely knowledgeable, and a demon for punctuation (on which he has also published extensively), he has been a popular Summer School Course Leader and lecturer for the Institute of Continuing Education since 1992.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Lennard, J. (2018, August 15). Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing - Nothing and Noting and No-Thing, and Wit [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Lennard, J. "Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing – Nothing and Noting and No-Thing, and Wit." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,