Shakespeare’s final plays – chaos and disintegration and new life

Ref: C3741596

In Shakespearean tragedy, we see individuals and states fall apart. Through the reading of these two post-tragic plays (The Winter's Tale and The Tempest), students will explore how Shakespeare shows dramatically the emergence of healthy growth from chaos.

Course aim

To enjoy and explore the themes and dramatic qualities of Shakespeare's two most important "final plays" - "The Winter's Tale" and "The Tempest".

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • A little experience of Shakespeare is useful but not essential. It is important that you are not deterred by the thought of Elizabethan English - the tutor will help you to navigate.

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

  • Identify the tragic themes and context: the mental disintegration of Leontes; the overthrow of Prospero.
  • Identify the features of regeneration and the foreshadowing of a "brave new world".
  • Understand how destructive psychological attributes and appetites are characterised in the plays.
  • Consider to what extent the plays are about what we may see as therapeutic themes, that is, the repair of individual, familial and societal damage.
  • Appreciate the poetic and dramatic aspects of the plays.

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
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • 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

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • You will need either a hard copy of "The Winter's Tale" and "The Tempest" or have the plays on an e-book.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • It would be useful but not essential to see one or both plays in performance or a DVD or livescreening of them. There is a production of The Tempest at the Barbican during the summer.

What can I do next?

  • The course will be a useful stepping-stone to more advanced courses on Shakespeare.

Download full course outline

Shakespeare’s final plays – chaos and disintegration and new life Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online 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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