This course introduces students to the world of the bustling and controversial theatres of the Anglo-Atlantic Eighteenth Century. Taking a dramaturgical approach to a number of dramatic texts produced in this important period in the history of popular entertainment, this course will examine key developments in literary innovation such as character development and the rise of interiority from within the context of new theatrical technology, the rise of new forms of media, the growing power of government censorship, an emerging imperial identity, nationalism, and increased social mobility. We will also focus on the rise of celebrity culture in the period and examine the development of popular obsession with “stars” within the broader social contexts of shifting gender norms, new regimes of sexual expression, and the rise of consumer culture. We will also examine plays alongside other forms of texts such as published gossip, celebrity memoirs, newspaper advertisements, playbills, and acting manuals, making use of existing databases hosted at the Folger, Huntington, and the British Libraries. This course also aims to serve as a general introduction on how to read literary texts historically, and how the study of literature can benefit from an interdisciplinary approach that borrows insights from Language Studies; Cultural Studies; New Media Studies; and Gender/Sexuality studies. At the end of this course, students should have acquired a critical familiarity with the dramatic culture of the Eighteenth Century, as well as a set of analytical skills that will prepare them for the future study in literary criticism. Texts to be studied might include popular versions of Sentimental Comedy; Operas/Oratorios; Bourgeois Tragedy; Gothic Fantasy; Pantomime and Travel Drama. Authors to be studied might include Jonathan Steele; George Frideric Handel; Henry Fielding; Oliver Goldsmith; Susanna Centlivre; Hannah Cowley; and Elizabeth Inchbald.
Assessment is by 100% coursework, consisting of:
Papers and presentations
There is also a hurdle attendance requirement.
Time management plays a key role in successful university study. Students need to keep in mind that as well as scheduled contact hours for lectures, tutorials and seminars, considerable additional time is needed to complete the academic requirements of each subject.
This course requires a minimum of 8 hours total time commitment a week (3 contact hours; and 5 hours spent for class preparation, reading, and assessment-related tasks).