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English Lit AQA AS Spec B - New comedy unit

Discussion in 'English' started by PiffPaffPouff, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. As September will be upon us before we know it, I would like to know fellow teachers' thoughts on possible texts for this unit - especially regarding the modern play.
    For the Shakespeare, a colleague suggested The Merchant of Venice. Not the most orthodox choice, but is known to have comic elements. What do other people think about this as a possible option?
    All ideas gratefully received [​IMG]

  2. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    'Merchant' follows all the rules of comedy and Shylock is a comic character.
    I'd go for it.
  3. bubblegirl83

    bubblegirl83 New commenter

    We haven't decided yet - I'm going on a course in April and hoping to get some inspiration. Worth bearing in mind, though, that a 'comedy' text doesn't have to be comic and the second text doesn't have to be modern.
  4. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    I wouldn't choose either of those, myself. I like my plays written for the stage.
  5. I'm planning to do 'The Tempest' and Alan Bennett's 'History Boys'.
  6. extraburt

    extraburt New commenter

    I am thinking about doing 'The Importance of Being Earnest', though I'm not familiar with the comic genre and can't see what questions I could set other than ones which focus on the use of satire. I think that it will be too difficult for students to answer questions which ask them to pin down the type of comedy - farce, satire, comedy of manners etc. Has anyone got any ideas about this? It seems much more difficult to pick out the comic elements in this play than say, something Shakespearean where they could look at the role of the fool for instance. Has anyone got any useful advice?

  7. We are doing Midsummer nights dream for the Shakespeare (seemed a fairly easy option for a topic I am not entirely confident with!) and Educating Rita for the modern play. TBH it's going to be hard coming up with a question for both - but I agree the modern play is going to prove more difficult. I am going on an AQA course in October for studying the new comedy genre for AS. You could try and see if there are any places left?
  8. Hold it! It's not a unit on the "comic" genre - it's about comedy. AQA stress this difference in their rubric, and point out that the comic is humorous, whereas comedies end happily.

    I am not especially happy about this change to comedy - I'm much more interested in the way drama explores the darker aspects of human nature, so I'm probably going to look at Merchant of Venice or Twelfth Night and focus on the abused characters, possibly investigating whether the happiness of some characters relies on the misery of others. I'm not sure how to phrase this question though, chiefly because I'm not sure what 'aspects of comedy' need to be brought out.

    I'm very mindful of Mel Brooks' definition: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down a manhole and die."
  9. How about PInter? I love Pinter. Does that count as comedy though? I think that, strictly speaking, it does. In The Homecoming, there is a marriage (of sorts) at the end.
  10. I love that Brooks quotation and it's so accurate! I was thinking of Pygmalion by GBS although technically it is classified as a romance, there are enough elements of comedy to satisfy the criteria. For the Shakespeare Twelfth Night. For the Tragedy, I taught Othello and a little known Irish play called Sive by John B. Keane. The Sive went down a storm with the coursework examiners because it was obscure and that level of difference seemed to intrigue them. Therefore Abigail's party and East is East are probably good choices!
  11. samd

    samd New commenter

    Got a bit of a beating from the exam board last year about the essay questions we set.
    Any advice?
    AQA Lit B - Comedy - Twelfth Night and History Boys
    What questions have worked for you?
    What general rules should I follow?
    Thanks in advance
  12. I've not passed these by the adviser yet, but I'd like to know what others think. First time setting essay titles, and they're for 'The History Boys'. Go in order from what I think are best to worst. Some are from trawling the internet too...

    far do you agree that “The History Boys
    is well within the English historic tradition of Comedy of Manners updated for
    the first decade of the 20th century”?

    it the exploration of themes or the development of characters that is the
    source of comedy in The History Boys?

    what extent is The History Boys a
    tragicomedy/satire/farce/comedy of manners? (pick 1!)

    satisfying is the comic resolution of The
    History Boys
    ? (a comic resolution is where a more secure order is
    established at the end of the play than at the start)

    it right to laugh at the character of the Headmaster?

    the dramatic function of 3 comedy scenes in the play.
    does Bennett create humour in The History

    <font face="Calibri">Would appreciate any suggestions! </font>

  13. I am to start this unit in Sept 2013. I am currently thinking either The Tempest or Twelfth Night and Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. What do people think of these choices, especially since when this was on the forum earlier time has gone passed and hopefully more experience gained.
  14. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    [Pinter] I suppose Ruth does keep her sense of humour ... she will have a lot to laugh at.

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