Languages for All
Short Courses
Your basket
Your account

Chekhov: Comedy Shorts

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course explores the role of Chekhov in the late 19thC Russian literary scene, looking at the playwright in the context of key historical, social and cultural developments of the time. One main aim of the course is to develop students’ literary analysis skills, as well as providing students greater awareness of and access to other pieces of  19th century Russian literature.

The course focusses on three short plays which will be examined in the English translation, but the tutor will also comment on the Russian original, so as to provide insights into particularly interesting passages of the plays. Excerpts of the BBC film adaptation (Chekhov Comedy Shorts) will be shown to enable students to discuss the dramatisation of the pieces.

The session will delivered through lectures and guided tutorials, with the tutor navigating the group through specific themes such as irony, allusions, author’s word choice (using the Russian original) as well as the social, mythological and ethical dimensions of the plays. The discussion questions will be  based on ‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’, which encourages the development of high order thinking skills (i.e. to develop understanding of a literary context; to develop understanding of a farce as a literary genre; to develop critical evaluation and analysis skills; to develop an understanding of dramatisation and to develop discussion skills).

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment


Content of Course

This one-day course will consist of 6 mini-sessions. In session 1 students will explore Russia at the time of Chekhov including important historical, social and cultural developments and Chekhov’s development as a dramatist as well as some important events in the playwright’s personal life.

Session 2 will focus on the history of Russian theatre before and after Chekhov, with a particular emphasis of the changes developed by the playwright.

In mini-sessions 3, 4 and 5 students will discuss and critically evaluate three selected short plays, focusing on the meaning of the titles, characterization, and the use of irony and other literary devices.

Mini-session 6 will look at Chekhov’s influence on European Theatre. Students will discuss the European interpretations of Chekhov’s plays and more specifically Chekhov’s plays on the British stage including a brief history of staging them in Britain.

Teaching method(s)

The course will be taught through mini-lectures (presentations), screenings, whole group discussion and individual and pair work. Students will engage with the English translation of the plays and with the help of the tutor access the original texts to provide an opportunity to compare the texts and the changes that the translators made. Students will be able to demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes by independently analysing the last play in the session (the level of tutor’s support will be greater for first play, more reduced for the second in order to help students to develop critical evaluation skills).

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain key historical, social and cultural developments in Russia during Chekhov’s life time;

  • Apply this knowledge to the selected plays and analyse them in context;

  • Identify and evaluate literary techniques used in the plays;

  • Explain how Chekhov influenced Russian and European drama.


Core Readings


  • Any translation of ‘The Bear’, ‘A Marriage Proposal’ and ‘On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco’ by Anton Chekhov.


  • ‘Reading Chekhov: A Critical Journey’ by J.Malcolm.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.