[Non-permissible combination: ENGL1053. Eighteenth century drama: The rise of celebrity culture
Note to students admitted in 2022-23 and before:
Students who have already completed “ENGL1053. Eighteenth century drama: The rise of celebrity culture” are not allowed to study “ENGL2189. Eighteenth century drama: The rise of celebrity culture” in the academic year 2023-24 and thereafter. But for those who have not completed ENGL1053 as an introductory course, they may still take ENGL2189 as an advanced course in the academic year 2023-24 and thereafter.]
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.
1X 3 hour Seminar per week
Textual analysis papers; group project (involving a performance component); contribution to seminar discussions.
All readings for this course will be provided on the Course Moodle page. Students can expect to read a series of plays from the 18th century by authors such as Mary Pix, Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, Jonathan Steele, Oliver Goldsmith, William Congreve, and George Frideric Handel, as well as a series of relevant critical, secondary articles.