Much ado about Shakespeare

Ref: C2339031

If you find Shakespeare daunting, and wonder what all the fuss is about, or if you are a devotee who wants to share and deepen your enjoyment of his work this course is for you. An opportunity to explore a controversial play, Merchant of Venice through reading, watching and discussion,. Gordon Parsons will give guest sessions. So what is Merchant of Venice about? We are all familiar with the role of Shylock, which has taken on a new resonance in post-holocaust years. The treatment of society’s outsiders is a major theme of the play. We are all bound one to another in any community, and the working out and breaking of those bonds, legal, commercial, social, familial and in employment as well as tribal and religious permeate the play. As in Measure for Measure, there are questions of how law, justice and mercy can be accommodated together. And what of the bonds or affection, friendship and love? How far do these overlap and what kinds of love is Shakespeare showing us?

Course aim

We will study Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and complete it in one term. It’s themes of commerce, litigation and race hatred make it both relevant and challenging today.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Approach Shakespeare’s works without fear
  • Have a deeper understanding of the themes of Merchant of Venice and their relevance throughout time
  • Have a greater understanding of the richness of Shakespeare’s language and ideas
  • 4 Have an understanding of the opportunities and problems of staging Merchant of Venice

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • Discussion, questions and comments in class will give opportunities for feedback from you, your fellow students and the tutors.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • No prior knowledge is needed, but if you want to read the play or watch a DVD of it you can probably obtain them from your library or cheaply second-hand..

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No prior knowledge is needed, but if you want to read the play or watch a DVD of it you can probably obtain them from your library or cheaply second-hand..

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • This course should enhance students’ experience of Shakespeare, whether as audience or participating. Nottingham has a Shakespeare Society, which has regular events relating to Shakespeare including lectures and readings.

Download full Course information sheet

Much ado about Shakespeare


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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