Module Catalogue 2021/22

SEL3419 : Gender, Power, and Performance in Early Modern Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Emma Whipday
  • Lecturer: Professor Kate Chedgzoy
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module explores performances of gender and power on the early modern stage and page. On this drama-centred module, we will explore how gender and power are represented and negotiated across a range of performance spaces, from theatres to country houses, and across a range of genres, from comedy and tragedy to closet drama and voyage drama. In so doing, we will trace how gender and power intersect with race, class, and sexuality in early modern culture, and seek to recover perspectives and voices from those in marginalised positions. Our approach will be informed by the lively critical conversations about these issues being conducted in current research.

Outline Of Syllabus

Possible module plays include: a comedy exploring gender and sexuality (such as Lyly’s Galatea), a ‘true crime’ domestic tragedy (such as Arden of Faversham), and a ‘voyage drama’ (such as Fletcher’s The Island Princess), as well as Shakespearean comedy and tragedy (e.g. Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello). This module will also focus on at least two plays by women, such as Lady Jane Cavendish and Lady Elizabeth Brackley’s The Concealed Fancies, and Lady Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia.

Concepts to be explored in relation to power in early modern England will include:
- gender
- class
- race
- sexuality
- nationality

Students will be encouraged to bring additional concepts into discussion.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1. Knowledge of a diverse formal and thematic range of early modern literary texts
2. Knowledge of early modern plays in their original historical and performance contexts
3. Understanding of the relationships between gender and power in early modern England
4. Awareness of the cultures and practices of performance in early modern England
5. Understanding of how gender and power intersect with race, class, and sexuality in early modern and contemporary culture

Intended Skill Outcomes

1. Reading and interpreting a variety of genres of early modern writing
2. Engaging with early modern plays as performance texts
3. Critical engagement with secondary reading
4. Contributing to debate and discussion in class
5. Reflecting upon learning
6. Research and writing

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion441:0044:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1041:00104:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity42:008:00Screenings of relevant productions (and a live theatre trip, where relevant)
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Essay Consultations
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00Essay Workshop
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures present the module concepts and contexts and clarify and explain unfamiliar material. Students respond to these ideas and draw on their own reading in small-group seminar work and in peer-led study groups. The film screenings offer examples of how other directors and companies have staged and performed these texts.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2M251000-word (min) participation portfolio
Essay2A753000-word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The portfolio will offer students the opportunity to set goals, track progress, reflect on their participation in the module, and to submit examples of their formative work.

The essay requires students to engage in detail with the texts and concepts studied, demonstrating their ability to relate critical and historical debates to textual analysis, as well as assessing key discipline-specific skills in research and writing. It offers students an opportunity to conceptualise a wider argument which addresses the themes of the module.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2021/22 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.