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Shakespeare: text and performance

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This intensive study of ten Shakespeare plays and the Sonnets takes close account of the social and political circumstances in which they were written and performed. This broad historicist approach is complemented by a strong emphasis on the diversity of twentieth-century critical responses to the plays and on modern productions of them, both on stage and on screen. The module will develop your knowledge of the range and variety of Shakespeare’s dramatic and poetic work; examine how its reception and status has been shaped by cultural and institutional factors; and explore themes such as questions of genre, politics, sexuality and gender.

Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

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Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

The module enables you to develop a critical understanding of performance issues, appropriate to Level 3. It is in two parts: the Part 1 module book, Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts, is designed to be read in conjunction with nine plays that together demonstrate the range and variety of Shakespeare’s dramatic work. The module moves broadly from the Elizabethan to the Jacobean phases of Shakespeare’s career: you will study A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, King Lear and The Tempest. You will study detailed readings of the individual plays, exploring questions of genre and also considering how particular performances of the plays have influenced critical opinion and interpretation. The first twenty weeks of study are designed to promote a confident grasp of Shakespeare’s language, and to develop skills in reading and interpretation.

The Part 2 module book, Shakespeare 1609: Cymbeline and the Sonnets, broadens the critical perspectives of the module by introducing two texts, Cymbeline and the Sonnets, which are often neglected in the study of Shakespeare’s work. We consider how the status and reception of the two texts have been shaped by cultural and institutional factors. You will also develop your understanding of some of the key issues introduced in Part 1: Shakespeare’s use of different genres and histories, and his representation of political conflict, sexuality and gender. A collection of primary and secondary readings included in A Shakespeare Reader: Sources and Criticism accompanies the module, helping you to develop an understanding of the competing critical and theoretical interpretations of the Shakespeare texts. In Part 2, you will orientate your own views on Shakespeare in relation to the critical tradition, and develop further skills of close reading, historical contextualisation and comparative analysis.

Accompanying the printed teaching material is a collection of performance-related DVDs and audio CDs. As well as full-length recordings of selected plays, there are many illuminating interviews with notable practitioners, including Sir John Gielgud, Fiona Shaw and Jonathan Miller. All this material is concerned with showing how an informed understanding of performance issues can deepen and enhance your response to the plays.

Entry

This is a Level 3 module. Level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably at the OU. 

Our module Reading and studying literature (A230) is highly recommended as preparation. It is a wide-ranging introduction to literary texts and how they are studied, essential if you have little or no experience of literary criticism. AA306 builds on Part 1 (Chapters 1 and 2) of A230.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

It is essential to read as many of the plays as you can before the module begins. You should also take opportunities to listen to audio recordings and to watch productions of Shakespeare’s plays, either on screen or in the theatre.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

This module includes considerable study of a lot of print and audio and visual material. If required alternative assignment questions can be provided when extensive audio-visual analysis is required. The printed study materials are available on audio in DAISY Digital Talking Book format or in comb-bound format. The study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Some PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and scientific, mathematical, foreign language, musical or graphic materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Written transcripts are available of the audio-visual material. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Module books, other printed materials, DVDs, audio CDs, website.

You will need

Television, DVD player, audio CD player. If you are using video versions of ‘King Lear’ and/or Polanski’s ‘Macbeth’ then you will also need a video player.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Shakespeare, William Norton Shakespeare, Norton £40.00 - ISBN 9780393929911 (Students may study from either the hardback or paperback (ISBN 9780393111354 £33.99) edition of this set book, whichever they prefer.)

Other materials

  • Shakespeare, William Hamlet DVD (1991, Mel Gibson, Glen Close), £12.99 (This DVD is available from internet retailers by searching on www.find-dvd.co.uk or high street retailers.)
  • William Shakespeare Twelfth Night DVD (1988, Richard Briers), £4.99 (Students can use either this or the 1996 (Helena Bonham-Carter) version. This DVD is available from internet retailers by searching on www.find-dvd.co.uk or high street retailers.)
  • Shakespeare Macbeth DVD (1971, Roman Polanski), £19.99 (This DVD is available at a discount from internet retailers by searching on www.find-dvd.co.uk or high street retailers.)
  • Shakespeare Grigori Kozintsev's King Lear DVD, Lenfilm £9.99

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. 

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The examination can only be submitted on paper.

The last TMA is of double length. 

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 when it will be available for the last time.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“This course could be renamed - 'All you've ever wanted to know about Shakespeare'. It's about his plays and sonnets, ...”
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“An excellent course which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone with an interest in Shakespeare, either as part of an ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code AA306
Credits 60
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

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