Competency-based Teaching of Shakespeare: How to Master King Lear

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Shakespeare’s hypotext has invited so many hypertextual transformations over the last four hundred years that twenty-first century students deserve the chance of digging into this rich mine of information and dramatic possibilities. The practical approach of a competency-based teaching method offers great advantages over traditional practices in that it devises a series of specific tasks for students to perform. As a result, their linguistic, historical, theatrical and intercultural skills are enhanced to such an extent that they acquire the competence they need to approach other early modern texts in a confident manner. This paper suggests a variety of tasks which can help students achieve this goal in a satisfactory way. Students are offered different textual versions of King Lear for comparison and commentary. They are likewise provided with excerpts from historical documents that cast light on Lear’s political and cultural context. Finally, different filmed versions of the play are watched and discussed, paying attention to their choice of setting, costumes, props, music, as well as to the hierarchical relationship between different semiotic systems.

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