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Shakespeare: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

  • Module code: DA5002
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 5
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of Level 4 or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module provides an opportunity for students to enlarge on studies in Level 4 by considering the production history of Shakespeare's plays. Three or four of the plays are studied in depth, and others used for reference. The plays are studied in a practical way, to explore their form and elicit their changing meanings in different theatrical and cultural contexts and at key historical moments. The module explores changing approaches to production since the first performances in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre and evaluates the impact which players and directors and their methods have had on the reception of Shakespeare at different particular moments. The module seeks to pinpoint how the social/ cultural/ political concerns of any given time have been dramatised in productions of Shakespeare's plays. Changing themes are explored to see how they might have been dramatised at different times, as a means of defining what has been meant and what is meant by ‘Shakespeare'.  Research tasks include the treatment of the plays in different playing contexts: on the stage, on the screen and in the workshop/ classroom.

Aims

This module aims to:

  • study key plays of Shakespeare in their historical and critical contexts
  • explore the form of Shakespeare's dramatic writing, and particularly the nature of his dramatic blank verse
  • consider the way that ‘Shakespeare', both text and cultural icon, has been utilised at key historical moments and in different cultural contexts
  • evaluate the impact of contemporary revivals on stage and screen

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of how the formal characteristics of Shakespeare's texts inform the meaning of the plays in performance
  • a knowledge of the social, political and cultural context of Shakespeare's plays (Key Skills: Research and Information Literacy Skills)
  • an awareness of the reception of Shakespeare's work in the context of culture and society at different historical moments
  • a consideration of the way that ‘Shakespeare', both text and cultural icon, has been adopted, utilised and adapted at different key moments
  • a critical response to contemporary productions on stage and screen
  • the capacity to work effectively with others on a practical research project (Key Skills: Interpersonal Skills)

Curriculum content

  • understanding the language of the plays: practical work on form and feeling
  • what is character,  what is plot and how does tension between characters in particular contexts create drama?
  • the expression of the human condition: the ‘Elizabethan world order'; changing contexts
  • the social, political and cultural contexts of the original performances of Shakespeare's plays
  • universal themes: for instance,  family, love, jealousy, domestic/ national/ international rivalries
  • shifting themes: for instance, gender, politics, government, authority, philosophy, religion
  • the plays in performance on stage and screen: actors' and directors' interpretations; interpretations in different key political and cultural contexts

Teaching and learning strategy

The module is taught in a weekly series of  two hour classes, throughout the academic year. There is an introductory lecture. Thereafter, the classes include a mix of lectures and practical workshops, although there is normally no formal allocation of time within any particular class.  At one point there is a session devoted specifically to approaches to assessment. The practical nature of the work relies on students engaging in guided research between classes. Students are expected increasingly to become informed by their own research both individually and jointly. From time to time, they are expected to give short presentations, both of research material and of performed extracts. These lead to the summative assessments which take the form of a practical scene study and a research essay.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture/ Workshops 22 x 2 hours 44
Guided independent study Independent Study 206
Guided independent study Group rehearsal 50
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Summative assessment includes a collaborative scene(s) study (15 minutes), which is presented midway through the module and a research essay (2500-3000 words) which is handed in at the end. The scene study emphasises Shakespeare's dramas as performances: it requires students to think about theatrical elements such as characterisation and character-relationship, use of space, actor-audience relationship and the verse as spoken word. The essay assesses students' ability to conduct research and use it appropriately, construct a coherent and persuasive argument and express themselves clearly and unambiguously in writing.

Formative assessments including short performances, presentations of independent research and short writing exercises, help to prepare students for the summative assessments.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
an understanding of how the formal characteristics of Shakespeare's texts inform the meaning of the plays in performance Formatively, in short performances and presentations; summatively, in Scene Study
a knowledge of the social, political and cultural context of Shakespeare's plays (Key Skills: Research and Information Literacy Skills) Formatively, in short presentations and writing exercises; summatively, in Research Essay
an awareness of the reception of Shakespeare's work in the context of culture and society at different historical moments Formatively, in short presentations and writing exercises; summatively, in Research essay
a consideration of the way that 'Shakespeare', both text and cultural icon, has been adopted, utilised and adapted at different key moments Formatively, in short presentations; summatively, in Research Essay
a critical response to contemporary productions on stage and screen Summatively in Scene Study and Research Essay
the capacity to work effectively with others on a practical research project (Key Skills: Interpersonal Skills) Summatively, in Scene Study

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
PRC Scene study 50
CWK Research essay 50
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

A selection of plays by William Shakespeare. These will change annually depending on factors such as whether there is a particular production running in or near London.

Bibliography recommended reading

Bates, J., & Jackson, R. (1996) Shakespeare: an Illustrated Stage History. Oxford, OUP

Bevington, D. (ed) (2005) Shakespeare in Performance. London, Methuen

Cooper & Stern, (eds)(2012) Shakespeare's Theatre and the Effects of Performance. London, Thomson

Kott, J. (1964) Shakespeare Our Contemporary.  London, Routledge

Rothwell, K. (1999) A History of Shakespeare on Screen. Cambridge, CUP

Escolme, B. (2005)Talking to the Audience: Shakespeare, performance, self. London, Routledge

Gurr, A. (2004)The Shakespeare Playing Company, 1594-1642. Cambridge, CUP

Hall, P. (2003) Shakespeare's Advice to the Players. London, Oberon

Shafer, E. (1998) (ed) Ms-directing Shakespeare. London, The Women's Press

Shapiro, J. (2005) 1599. London, Faber & Faber

Shepherd, S. & Womack, P. (1996) English Drama: A Cultural History. London, Blackwell

Smallwood  (ed) (1998) Players of Shakespeare Nos: 2, 4, 5 and 6. Cambridge, CUP

Stern, Tiffany(2004) Making Shakespeare. London, Routledge

Thomson,Peter (1992) Shakespeare's Theatre (2nd edition).London, Routledge

Wells, Stanley (2002) Shakespeare For All Time. London, Macmillan

Wells S & Stanton S (eds) (2010)Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage. Cambridge, CUP

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