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Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

5. What is the status of aliens in the play?

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About this Lecture


In this play, we think about the status of 'outsiders' in the play, thinking in particular about the Princes of Morocco and Arragon, Lancelot, and – of course – Shylock himself.


In this course, Dr Christie Carson (Royal Holloway, London) explores Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. We begin in the first module by thinking of the play's status as a comedy: is it enough for the play to end with a marriage for us to consider it a comedy? In the second module, we focus on the relationship between the four key characters in the play – Bassanio, Antonio, Portia and Shylock – before moving on in the third module to think about what the play values, focusing in particular on the scenes featuring Portia's chests. In the fourth module, we think about the various kinds of love that are demonstrated in the play, before moving on in the fifth module to consider the treatment of outsiders in the play – the princes of Morocco and Arragon, Lancelot, and Shylock.


Dr Carson obtained her undergraduate and masters degrees in Canada before moving to the UK in 1990 to complete her PhD at the University of Glasgow. At Glasgow she acted as a tutor for both the Film and Television and Drama first year programmes. She taught Television Studies at the University of Glamorgan in Wales and taught both Film Studies and Drama at Herstmonceux Castle, the UK base of Queen's University in Canada.

In 1996 she was appointed as an Institutional Research Fellow in the Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway. From 1996 to 2003 she was the Director of the Centre of Multimedia Performance History, a research centre within the Department of Drama and Theatre.

Dr Carson is the co-editor of The Cambridge King Lear CD-ROM: Text and Performance Archive and author of 'King Lear in North America', an article on this CD. In February 2003 Dr. Carson completed a large AHRB funded research project entitled Designing Shakespeare: an audio visual database, 1960-2000 which documents the performance history of Shakespeare in Stratford and London.

From September to December 2000 and 2001 Dr Carson was a visiting Lecturer in Drama and Multimedia at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. From March 1, 2003 to May 31, 2004 Dr Carson was seconded into the English Subject Centre at Royal Holloway before joining the English Department in June of that year.

She returned to the English Subject Centre part-time from January 2006 to July 2007 to work as the CETL (Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) Liaison Officer. Coming out of this experience she taught part-time during the 2008-09 academic year a third year course at Warwick University that is supported by the CAPITAL Centre for Excellence which looks at the ways performance approaches can enrich the study of Shakespeare’s work. In the summer of 2009 she began teaching a course entitled ‘Shakespeare’s theatrical texts’ to visiting students from the University of Connecticut which explores the ways literary and performance approaches to the plays can be usefully integrated.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Carson, C. (2018, August 15). Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice - What is the status of aliens in the play? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Carson, C. "Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice – What is the status of aliens in the play?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,