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Term 2 Essay Questions

Finalists:

You must submit either a 4,500-word research-led essay or a creative project with a supporting essay of 2,000 words. If you choose to do a creative project this term, you may not do one next term. The deadline is Term 2, Week 2.

Essays: Finalist (Level 6) essays for this module are research-led. This means that unlike Intermediate year (Level 5) students, Finalist (Level 6) students are required to design and develop their own research questions for the essays. You must submit your title to your seminar tutor in writing by 5.00 p.m. on Monday of Term 1, Week 10.

Creative projects must be on a topic related to this term's syllabus, and accompanied by a supporting essay of 2,000 words. Projects must be agreed with your tutor in writing by Monday of Term 1, Week 10. Further guidance can be found here.

Intermediate years:

You must submit either a 3,500-word essay on one of the questions listed below, or a creative project with a supporting essay of 1,800 words. If you choose to do a creative project this term, you may not do one next term. The deadline is Term 2, Week 2.

1. “It is no City if it takes orders from one voice” (Haimon, Antigone). Analyse the workings of political power in the work of any two playwrights studied this term.

2. “You won’t hear me asking which gods exist / or cross-examining their actions. … The wisest man living, though he brings / to bear his keenest logic, / will never break their grip on our lives” (Tiresias, The Bacchae). Examine the presentation of the relationship between gods and humans in two or more plays.

3. Consider the relationship between chorus and protagonist in two of the plays you have studied.

4. “Who is the man here, / She or I, if this crime goes unpunished?” (Creon, Antigone). Examine the representation of masculinity in two or more European dramas.

5. Examine the ways in which two or more Greek plays reflect or address the real-life exclusion of women from Athenian democracy.

6. Compare and contrast the ways any two classical Greek playwrights dramatised the myths of Troy or Thebes.

7. How culpable are tragic protagonists for their own actions? Discuss with reference to two or more tragedies.

8. "Weakening the bond between woman and manlord/ A grudge wanting blood for the spilling of childblood..." (Harrison/ Aeschylus, Agamenmon) Consider the ways in which two Greek or seventeenth-century plays interrogate the nature of the family and its relationship with the social world and/or the sacred.

9. "Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower type, - not, however, in the full sense of the word bad; for the ludicrous is merely a subdivision of the ugly. It may be defined as a defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive" (Aristotle, Poetics). Consider in detail the extent to which Aristotle’s definition of comedy applies to two or more plays studied this term.

10. “How about one of the old gags, sir? I can always get a laugh with those” (Aristophanes, Frogs). Analyse in detail the ways in which two or more playwrights studied this term reflect metatheatrically upon the art of playwriting.

11. God the Author: "This is the play I have devised for my enjoyment. And from my throne eternal will I turn my sight on the players here below." (Calderon, The Great Theatre of the World). Consider the function of metatheatricality in Kyd, Calderon and/or Moliere. Discuss two or more plays.

12. “Force maketh nature more violent in the return” (Francis Bacon). Discuss the representation of revenge in two or more plays.

13. “Happy endings are less plausible than tragic ones” (Basilio, Life is a Dream). Analyse in detail, and account for, the strategies used to close two or more of the plays studied this term.

14. Compare The Spanish Tragedy with any other English, or Spanish, Renaissance Revenge Tragedy. How different are their moral positions and their belief in the possibility of justice?

15. Messengers, servants, shepherds, maids: drama abounds with such characters. Explore their structural function and social class in two or more plays you have studied.

16. Trilogies: analyse the ways structure gives meaning to the Oresteia, or consider the effect of reading/staging Sophocles' Theban plays as a trilogy, or examine the ways modern dramatists have used the trilogy form (e.g. Edward Bond, David Hare, Rona Munro).

17. “Staying faithful depends on what the husband's like. / Cuckolds bring it on themselves - / It's not the poor wife's fault” (Dorine, Tartuffe). Examine the presentation of marriage and/or infidelity in two or more of the plays studied this term.

18. Analyse the use and dramatic significance of one of the following in the work of two or more playwrights studied this term: war; desire; bereavement; madness; monstrosity; the witness; the servant; the underworld; the mask.

19. Explore the director's interpretive strategies in any two modern productions (stage, film or television) of dramatists considered this term.

20. In consultation with your tutor, you may devise a creative project (accompanied by a reflective essay of 1,800 words) on a topic related to this term's syllabus. Projects must be agreed with your tutor in writing by Monday of Term 1, Week 10. Further guidance can be found here.

21. You may choose to devise your own essay question in consultation with your seminar tutor. If you do this, you must submit your title to the course convenor in writing by 5.00 p.m. on Monday of Term 1, Week 10.