Twelfth Night Winter Read: Honors College

Read it, View it, Internalize it.

Do you know what happens in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night?  Could you explain it to a friend off the top of your head?

If not, winter break is a great time to make up for this literary deficiency. It is a short play.

The Honors College and the UMass Lowell Library, with support from English Professor Nancy Selleck, invite you to learn about this play with us. 

We would love for you to commit to the reading and/or viewing of Twelfth Night between December 10th and January 29th.

All are welcome! 

To register and declare your willingness to be enriched ---  go to Twelfth Night Read.

In early February, for those who can attend, Dr. Nancy Selleck will lead us in a discussion about the beauty of Twelfth Night. Date, Time, and Location are to be determined.

Certificates of completion will be given to those who finish.

For those who complete the reading, names will be randomly drawn and prizes will be awarded, such as:

  • $50 Gift Card to UMass Lowell Bookstore
  • $25 Gift Card to Egg Roll Cafe
  • $25 Gift Card to Towne Line Automotive (Lowell, MA)
  • A UMass Lowell  Honors College Hoodie Sweatshirt
  • A UMass Lowell Honors College Polo Shirt 
  • Diamond D1 Pro Baseball

Are you with us? We hope hundreds of you join us in this enriching activity.



William Shakespeare was born in April, 1564,  at Stratford-upon-Avon, and died April 23, 1616, also in Stratford-upon-Avon in England. Elizabeth the First was on the throne at the time of his birth, and James the First was king when he died.

Twelfth Night, Or What You Will,  written around 1601, is one of Shakespeare's comedies. If we in the 21st century think we are the first to come to grips with gender fluidity, this play will make us think again. Gender identity is a prominent theme of this play. 
We are drawn in to the world of the action with a shipwreck. A young woman, Viola,who has been travelling with her brother is saved, and believes her brother to have been drowned. Disguising herself as a man, as anybody surviving a shipwreck naturally would, she enters the service of a duke who is disastrously and unrequitedly in love with another young woman, Olivia. This Duke, (Orsino) decides that his new hire, the disguised Viola, is just the person to act as his ambassador and press his suit with Olivia. No spoilers here, but nothing goes as planned.


Where Can You Get a Copy

Start with your community library. They will be sure to have a copy, or even a dvd of one of the filmed versions of the play. Audio recordings are a great way to experience the play also.

Alternatively, search the UML catalog, or click the links at left for e-books of the play.