A103 TMA07

TMA07: Block 5 comparison

This assignment related to Block 5 and you will be dealing with two different works. When you have completed the assignment, please send it to your tutor to arrive no later than 4 April 2008.

Pleas remember that this assignment is non-substitutable.

You should answer this question in an essay of no more than 1,500 words.

Choose two works from Block 5. Discuss the ways in which your two chosen texts exploit the traditions and conventions of their genre both formally and in terms of content. You might find it useful to consider points of comparison between your chosen texts. Credit will be given for attempting a comparison between works of different genres, but you don’t have to do this.

The four main texts studied in Block 5 are:

Work Genre Author
Pygmalion Drama Shaw
Media Drama Euripides
Don Juan Symphonic poem Strauss
Wide Sargasso Sea Prose fiction (novel) Rhys

Guidance notes

Pygmalion – Wide Sargasso Sea
Your starting point might be the word ‘exploit’ in the question: remember that this can mean using traditions and conventions in an established way and challenging, adapting or even flouting those same traditions and conventions. Block 5, Unit 19, offers plenty of guidance on the dramatic conventions and the myths and traditions used in Pygmalion. Consider how Shaw is exploiting the structure of the five-act play, the conventions of comedy, and Ovidian myth and fairy tale. Block 5, Unit 23, contains ample guidance on the novel as a genre and its conventions and structure; it also relates Wide Sargasso Sea to library traditions and myths. Consider the ways in which Rhys structures her novel, how it relates to the novelistic tradition as embodied in Jane Eyre, and how the perspectives, style and characterisation used in the novel relate to established or accepted conventions. If you choose these two texts, you may wish to discuss to what extent these authors may be regarded as flouting or attempting to reform generic conventions and traditions.

If you choose to work with Medea, you need to look for the main traditions and conventions of Greek tragic drama before you can work out how Euripides exploited them. These include the structure of the play (Units 20-21, p.60), dialogue (pp.60-61), mythical content (pp.69, 87-91), theatrical space (pp.69-78), and aspects of performance such as actors, masks, costumes, movement, including the deployment of the chorus and stage machinery (pp.61-3). However, you are not being asked to give a survey and should avoid a straight summary of traditions and conventions. A better approach is to feed information on conventions and traditions into your discussion of how they are exploited. For example, you might examine how the device of stichomythia is used in a particular episode, perhaps one of the three involving Medea and Jason (p.56). You are also being asked to look at both form and content. Your essay should include examples of both, even if they are discussed together. You will find the Glossary (pp.113-15) useful for the formal elements of Greek tragedy and may wish to refer to Margaret Williamson’s article in Resource Book 3, D9, when considering such issues as the representation of public and private space in performance.

Don Juan
You are advised to reread pp.136-40, paying particular attention to the discussion of the musical traditions that Strauss could call on when writing a large-scale orchestral work. You might find it helpful to reread some of the detailed discussion of Don Juan and think about the conventions associated with specific instruments.


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24 Responses to A103 TMA07

  1. Di says:

    Hi there,

    Im doing the same ou course as you andi also am a bit behind, I just wondered if you struggle at all with setting yourself targets and managing to get a routine going? Im doing whole thing without tutorials or anything and im finding it so hard. especially tma07 im just lost. anyway sorry to bother you


  2. JezzaBelle says:

    Just finished this one. I chose Wide Sargasso Sea vs Pygmalion.
    Think I may have mixed up traditions & conventions a bit though!!

  3. Brennig says:

    I’ve replied to Di privately re targets and workload.

    Jezza, it’s a tough choice. I actually felt as if I was being given a small number of books , one of which is plainly dreadful. It’s such a shame that with the enormous breadth and depth of English literature that those who set the course-work feel these works are worthy of such detailed examination.

    I would have loved to see some Hemingway on the table! And there’s a reference in the question to Jane Eyre, yet where’s the Classical English novel?

    It really was poor fayre to work with.

  4. JezzaBelle says:

    Quite agree actually. I hated WSS, and felt it was like trying to swim upstream in treacle.
    Maybe we weren’t given the option of a classic novel because it would’ve provided us with too much content to analise? Shame though. I’d have loved to have got my teeth into some Bronte!!

  5. Brennig says:

    A public answer to a private email from a non-broadband internet user…

    Should the podcast go in to detailed discussion of OU-related activities, it would be reflected in the podcast notes. I hope that deals with your question?

  6. margi says:

    the wss is a tough novel to get into but i read sparkes notes on line to get me through the novel to begin with. what is tough if you haven’t read jane eyre and that does leave you kind of stumped. i have finished reading wss and i did like it but empathised with anntionette she got the fuzzy end of the lolipop in the end.

  7. Alex Billington says:

    I’m looking for some advice on which of the two pieces of work are the best to do on this assignment as I’m already struggling to which two to decide from the four pieces of work.

  8. fee says:

    not entirely sure i understand what this site is all about but i’m studying the same course, a103, and trying to tackle this assignment, chosen medea and pygmalion but just seem to find the course work for medea half explanatory. going round in circles, having mini panic, life is getting in the way of actually doing as much work as i want to do, cant attend any tutorials as they are miles away, have been doing well and hitting in the 80’s for several of previous ones,computer has caught very nasty virus and buggered so having to borrow computers and just generally having mass panic. advice appreciated.hope that’s what this site is about,

  9. Lisa Wallman says:

    I have chosen Pygmalion and WSS but can’t even decide on a second sentence.


    It’s hard. Hated all the texts.

    Good luck all

  10. Rob says:

    I chose WSS and Medea. There is so much to work with in Medea with regards the reversal of roles and the transgresion into typically male duties such as the public space of the stage(outside the house) and keeping the bodies of the children to bury herself, effectively robbing Jason of everything, including his masculinity. I am only using WSS for the extra cross-genre marks, but I can’t get into it. I’m pretty much surviving on the tutorial notes and sparknotes. Is it best to look at the conventions of the classic novel to better understand how JR has spurned them? Or to really focus on the forms of WSS itself? I feel like I am missing the point entirely on this one. The course material has suddenly become very convoluted, whereas before it was very easy to follow.

  11. Lisa Wallman says:

    Phew…finally finished…at quarter to 1 in the morning.


    At least it’s done


  12. Brennig says:

    Well done Lisa!

  13. kate1976 says:

    Hi I am doing the online version of this course which seems to have the same essay question for TMA07 and it is due tomorrow (which means I have until midnight tomorrow to finish it). I am really getting tired of the way the questions are worded. I do not feel that they are precise enough so I am left wondering how they want us to respond. Am I the only one that feels this way? “You might find it useful…” – either ask me to do it or let me come up with the idea on my own. Don’t make a suggestion in the question – once they have mentioned it, it is not like you can choose to ignore it (without losing points). Gah I am just sore because I have 1500 still to write (but my bibliography’s done so that’s ok!).

  14. Brennig says:

    Hi Kate, nice of you to drop by.

    No, you’re not the only one who thinks the wording is an issue! 🙂

  15. Brennig says:

    My tutor said she allows 10% margin either way on the wordcount. hth!

  16. fee says:

    making good progress now, i agree that there is just so much to work with in medea and i have now reached the problem of trying to deal with pygmalions conventions in the space of 500 words. does any one know if you’re allowed to go over on words or if its just best to stick to 1500?

  17. fee says:

    e mailed my tutor so hopefull she gets back intouch soon. stress!

  18. Samantha says:

    hi folks im glad to have seen this website its nice to know im not the only one finding trouble writing this one. Im doing Pygmalion – WSS ive done all the work and re read them so many times i couldnt possibly know any more about them ive got hungreds of pages of comments written scattered all over my desk just now lol but for some reason i just cant focus to start writing this 🙁 well heres hoping the panic factor of getting it in on time tonight will jump start my brain into writing this lol

  19. Stephan says:

    1249 words…


  20. JezzaBelle says:

    I got 72% on this one. I was surprised, because I put more work and time into it than I did for any of the previous assignments, and I scored higher on all the others. Still, I am pleased I passed and hope never to have to pick up WSS again!

  21. Jimbo says:

    Funny you say that jezzabelle. I have had similar situations where essays I put loads of time into I got 50-60% and essays I blitzed due to time restraints I got 80%+. Perhaps over-analysis and second guessing is the cause.
    Have an extension from my tutor as I am behind. Finishing TMA 07 tonight hopefully.
    Liked Pygmalion but got bored with WSS. I thought WSS read like a very self-indulgent trip down memory lane.

    The OU have rightly covered race and gender issues in A103 – it’s an important part of human experience – but I am now so bored of race/gender that I am dreading the 60’s Unit. Every unit has laid it on thick and I feel the unit authors are really pushing a now dated PC agenda!

  22. Ali says:

    This is the last year that A103 is running I think. They’ve obviously realised it’s starting to show its age.

    Have you all signed up for your next course yet?

  23. Sam says:

    I’v enjoyed reading both books, esspesially wss, theres just so much hidden culture in it that makes me want to explore more.

    Even so, i’m still struggeling with the essay. To much information to put into such a tight essay.

  24. Nicki says:

    God I am so glad that I have found this blog.
    Here I am struggling (I have an extension)and I find that I am not the only one who is having problems with this one. you guys have made my day. Will bookmark this in anticipation of the next assignment.
    Ali, I have already started U211 and boy it is hard work!!