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Performing the Georgian World: 18th Century Drama & Theatre - ENG00096H

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Gillian Russell
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

The eighteenth century is one of the most exciting and formative eras in the history of British theatre and drama. During this period British theatre became a truly national and also global phenomenon, a key institution in which dynamic changes such as an expanding empire, shifts in gender roles, and the impact of the print media were staged, debated, and contested.

This module will consider some of the key plays of the period in relation to their performance history and the actors and actors who featured in them, the Georgian period also being crucial in the rise of modern stardom. We will explore evolutions in the genres of tragedy and comedy and intersections with other media, including visual art. Special attention will be given to the Georgian theatre in York and we will also consider the influence of eighteenth-century precedents on the theatre repertory today.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

This course aims to introduce you to the dramatic literature of the eighteenth century in relation to the history of performance, theatre as a cultural institution, and cultural history more broadly.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with a range of eighteenth-century plays.
  2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement these texts within the contexts of their critical reception, history of performance, and their afterlives in the eighteenth century and beyond.
  3. Evaluate key debates within the relevant critical fields of theatre history and eighteenth century studies.
  4. 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.


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

Thomas Otway’s Venice Preserv’d, Nicholas Rowe’s The Fair Penitent

George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer, Mary Davys, The Northern Heiress

Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Critic

John Home’s Douglas

Thomas Southerne’s Oronooko

George Colman’s Inkle and Yarico

Hannah Cowley’s The Belle’s Stratagem

Elizabeth Griffiths’ The Times

John Dent’s The Bastille

Robert Southey and S. T. Coleridge’s The Fall of Robespierre

Joanna Baillie’s De Monfort

Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good

April De Angelis’, A Laughing Matter

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.