December 11, 2023

‘That is the question’ – Lecturers publish Leaving Cert study guides to help Kilkenny students with Shakespeare

A group of local lecturers are trying to assist Kilkenny Leaving Cert students as much as possible by publishing study guides for the Bard of Avon.

With many students still unsure whether the exams are “to be, or not to be,” lecturers at in Waterford Institute of Technology’s Humanities School have produced two short and student-friendly books of essays on Shakespeare’s Hamlet (as an aid for 2020 Leaving Certificate students) and on King Lear (which is on the 2021 Leaving Cert exam).

The essays on Hamlet focus on some of the key themes and tropes at work in the play such as betrayal, death, sexuality and the very nature of identity.

Dr Suzanne Denieffe, Head of the School of Humanities said: “The Hamlet and King Lear guides are designed to support students in their study and renew their enthusiasm for one of the greatest writers the world has ever known.”

Study notes and grinds can sometimes stamp out a student’s affection for Shakespeare and the academics in WIT tried to avoid falling into that trap, according to English lecturer, Dr Jenny O’Connor.

“The aim of this booklet is to regard one of Shakespeare’s most enduring texts from a range of perspectives and hopefully, to offer students a renewed enthusiasm for the text.

“It is a text about all of the questions that humanity has grappled with throughout history, the questions that we continue to grapple with today, and for this reason, the play still deserves to be celebrated.

“In addition, the booklet on Shakespeare’s King Lear discusses themes of power, madness and kingship, as students might expect, but the essays also focus on family dynamics, the nature of empathy and the central moments of cruelty that inform the text,” Dr O’Connor concluded.

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