This course has concessions available

Greek Tragedy And Comedy – Online

This course transports us to the origin of the theatre as we explore the oldest surviving dramas and comedies. The classical Athenian theatre gave us the tragedies which depict human life at its most extreme; at the same time, it presented the grotesque, satiric exaggerations of the comedies. These dramatic forms have provided the template for stage drama to this day. We will read a selection of surviving tragic and comic plays from Ancient Greece, and discuss their original context and continuing relevance, guided by the following questions: Who made these plays? Why were they so important? What do they mean to us now? And do they really help explain our psychology?

Who is this course for

This course covers a different selection of texts to the Spring 2020 Greek Tragedy course, so it is suitable for former students as well as newcomers.
It is open to anyone with an interest in tragic drama, myth, ancient history - especially the relevance of ancient works for today. No prior knowledge required.

What does this course cover

We will read and discuss a selection of Greek plays in translation. Texts include Aeschylus' Libation Bearers (a family revenge drama to rival Hamlet) and Prometheus Bound (the story of the punishment of the rebellious titan); Sophocles' Ajax (a tale of rage and madness in the shadow of the Trojan War) and Oedipus at Colonus (which depicts the transcendental death of the unhappy king); Euripides' Trojan Women (documenting the appalling aftermath of the legendary war) and Iphigenia at Aulis (a drama of sacrifice and deception); Aristophanes' The Frogs (a comedy in the underworld) and Lysistrata (the original sex-strike comedy). Students will learn about the material, social, and political circumstances around the production of these plays and their reception to the present day. Students will also be encouraged to discuss different interpretations of these enduring tragedies and comedies.

By the end of the course you should be able to:
' understand the circumstances of the performance of ancient drama
' identify and interpret typical themes in tragedy and comedy
' discuss the meaning of a variety of dramatic and mythical plots

What will it be like

The course will be run online using Zoom for the live class sessions and either the Moodle page for the course or some other system for the distribution of the electronic resources for the session sitting alongside this. Although there will be some adjustments that need to be made for the online version of this course, we will aim to keep the experience as close as possible to that of a face to face course taught in the Centre.

Teaching methods include tutor presentations, with handouts and PowerPoint slides; close reading; and class discussion topics.

Students will be assessed by individual learning plans and class participation.

What else do you need to buy or do

The course will be run on Zoom, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:

You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.

You can participate in class sessions through the use of a computer, laptop, tablet or other similar internet enabled device. Please note that if you only have access to a smartphone, you will be able to attend the class sessions and participate in them but you will find it more difficult to benefit from the full range of materials and activities involved in the course if this is your only means of connection.

Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session and that as far as possible that you can keep this space quite and clear of interruption so that you can concentrate on what is happening in the class.

By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may occasionally be recorded by the tutor for internal education and training purposes but any such recordings will not be made available to anyone outside of the Mary Ward Centre organisation without us asking you again for further permission to do so.

Extracts from the essential texts will be supplied. You will be encouraged to read as widely as you wish, using local libraries and the Internet, guided by a supplied list of recommended texts. You may wish to bring a pad and pen for note-taking.

What this course could lead to

Other Humanities courses at Mary Ward Centre or elsewhere.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

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Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’