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Killing Euripides? Drama from the Peloponnesian War to the War on Terror - ENG00043H

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Richard Rowland
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

You will study plays and fragments from fifth century BC Athens, and will be encouraged to reconstruct imaginatively the conditions of their original performance, including the spatial arrangements of the ‘theatre’, the city, the players, and the audience.

Alongside the historical research we will analyze recent reinventions of ancient theatrical models, exploring ‘translations’ from Anouilh in the 1940s, through to recent experiments by writers such as Tony Harrison, Liz Lochhead, and Neil LaBute, and Martin Crimp’s play – based on the Trachiniae of Sophocles – about the war on terror. The course will focus primarily on tragedy, but work by Aristophanes – including a recent reworking of the Lysistrata set in an arms factory in Bradford – will also feature.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aim of this module is to investigate the practicalities of staging ancient Greek drama, to examine the cultural and political dynamics that generated the earliest performances, and to explore the ways in which contemporary theatre practitioners have re-imagined these works for performance now. NB. Knowledge of ancient Greek is NOT a requirement.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with a range of texts from Ancient Greece to twentieth and twenty-first century re-writings of ancient texts for new political and performance conditions
  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with what constituted and characterized performance in ancient Greek society.
  • Evaluate key debates within the relevant critical fields, especially concerning the changing relationships between the playwright, his text, and the realization of that text in performance.
  • Produce independent arguments and ideas which demonstrate an advanced proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills


Task Length % of module mark
3000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in the term in which the module is taught (usually in the week 7 seminar). Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work. This essay will be submitted in hard copy and your tutor will annotate it and return it two weeks later (usually in your week 9 seminar). Summary feedback will be uploaded to your eVision account. All students will have the opportunity to give an in-class individual presentation during a seminar in weeks 2-9.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

The reading list will be confirmed in advance of the module running and will probably include the following:

  1. Oresteia of Aeschylus, Tony Harrison’s version of the Agamemnon
  2. The two Oedipus plays of Sophocles. You will often find that editions of these plays (under a title such as ‘The Theban Plays’) include the Antigone, and that will be useful later.
  3. The Trojan Women and the Hecuba of Euripides; Kate O’Reilly, Peeling
  4. Sophocles, The Women of Trachis (Trachiniae); Martin Crimp, Cruel and Tender
  5. The Electras of Sophocles and Euripides; Yael Farber’s Molora
  6. Medeas, from Euripides to Neil Labute and beyond
  7. Antigones, from Sophocles to Anouilh and beyond
  8. The Bacchae of Euripides; the Lysistrata of Aristophanes


The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.