Accessibility statement

Comedy: Genres & Sub-Genres - TFT00001I

« Back to module search

  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Michael Cordner
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module explores the concept of genre, and its importance and usefulness for the interpretation and performance of playscripts, via both analytical investigation and practical experiment. We will be working on a rich line-up of comedies spanning a wide historical range – from pre-Christian Rome to the immediately contemporary. The texts we will be studying have numerous features in common. Yet each is a highly idiosyncratic creation. Setting them side by side, therefore, allows us both to perceive the patterns of inheritance and kinship which connect them across great spans of time and to identify more precisely the individual distinctiveness of each, plus the implications of that distinctiveness for the demands they pose, and the opportunities they offer, for their performers.

*Students will lose 3 marks per workshop, seminar or practical session missed for this module.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

To introduce students to the study of the lines of descent and influence which bond together writing and performance within comic modes across extended time-spans, and between different media

To develop a more sophisticated understanding of genre, as applied to a variety of comic modes

To explore, via performance experiment, the translation of writing into performance within one major comic tradition, farce, from Ancient Rome to immediately contemporary playwriting.

Module learning outcomes

To be informed about theories of genre and the debates surrounding them

To have acquired the skills needed to analyse, and to conduct practical explorations into, the relationships between tradition and innovation in comic writing and performance across a substantial historical span

To have developed further your own performance skills in comedy


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 75
Small Group Practical Performance
N/A 25

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 75
Monologue Performance
N/A 25

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on all assessments and reassessments. Formative feedback will be provided on practical achievements in workshops and on the week 7 written task, and summative on the week 10 practical performances and, within 20 working days after the deadline, on the written task.

Indicative reading

The assignments will differ from year to year; but one indicative selection of primary texts would be:

Plautus, Menaechmi

Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors

Moliere, Scapin

Feydeau, A Flea in her Ear

Orton, What The Butler Saw

Ayckbourn, Absurd Person Singular

Holcroft, Rules for Living

A matching list of secondary texts would include:

Eric Bentley, The Life of the Drama

Jerry Palmer, The Logic of the Absurd

Jessica Milner Davis, Farce

John Wright, Why Is That So Funny?

Matthew Bevis, Comedy: A Very Short Introduction

Eric Weitz, The Cambridge Introduction to Comedy

Eric Weitz, Theatre and Laughter

Jerry Palmer, Taking Humour Seriously

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.