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SEL3392 : Between the Acts: English Theatre, 1660-1737

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Harriman-Smith
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to:
(i) inform students about the evolution of the English stage between 1660 and 1737;
(ii) enable students to connect historical cultural issues to contemporary concerns;
(iii) improve students’ ability to make use of a wide range of sources (including archives and live performances) as a basis for persuasive argument;
(iv) improve students’ ability to present literary material in a variety of formats.

Outline Of Syllabus

In the course of twelve weeks, we will examine both a variety of dramatic productions (tragedies and comedies, but also pantomimes, burlesques, satires and more) as well as writing about performance (the first English acting manuals, early theatre reviews, and legal and business records about the stage). Key module themes will include: celebrity, gender, passion, patriotism, morality, and genre. Although specific course contents will vary from year to year, the following authors may well be studied on this module: Aphra Behn, John Dryden, George Farquhar, Henry Fielding, Delarivier Manley and Mary Pix.

Where possible, this module will include a trip to an eighteenth-century theatre.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion138:0038:00End-of-module essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion84:0032:00Blog post preparation and composition for mid-module assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading118:0088:00Weekly reading for lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00Weekly seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00End-of-module essay workshop
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity31:003:00Study group work for final weeks of term
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to knowledge outcomes relevant to the module. They address themes and techniques common to the authors studied and encourage the students to think comparatively.

The seminars allow both for the development of knowledge outcomes through close analysis of specified texts and performances, and for the practice of skills, especially oral presentation and interpersonal communication.

Between the lecture and the seminar, and during the first half of the semester, students will be required to work in groups on blogs devoted to individual plays from the period 1660-1714. These blogs will then be assessed, as detailed below.

After the completion of their blogs, each group will meet as a study group for one hour during the last three weeks of term, completing a series of tasks designed to recapitulate module teaching and prepare for the end-of-module assessment.

Where possible, this module will include a trip to the Georgian Theatre Royal at Richmond, North Yorkshire. Students will have the opportunity to act on an eighteenth-century stage, recreate the experience of a provincial audience in the period, and examine the theatre's archive. This trip will replace a seminar and fall roughly in the middle of the course.

Finally, an essay workshop held in the second half of the semester will provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their own writing and consider how they might improve it ahead of the final assessment.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio2M30Assessed blog: see rationale for details.
Essay2A70A keyword-based essay of 2 500 words.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MRequired blogposts: see rationale for details.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Contributing to a group blog on a little-known play from this period will test students' ability to present historical theatrical material to a wide audience in an online format. This assessment breaks down into three tasks, which all students must undertake:
(1) The composition of a blogpost on a set topic (for example, a plot summary of their group’s play) – this is the formative assessment ‘Written Exercise 1’;
(2) The composition of a blogpost on a topic of the student’s choice to do with their group’s play – this is part of the summative ‘Portfolio 1’ assessment;
(3) The integration of the student’s blogposts and those of the rest of their group into a website about their group’s play – this is part of the summative ‘Portfolio 1’ assessment.

Essay: This module’s final assessment will take the form of a long essay (2 000 words), in which students will need to make use of all the skills they have practised in particular weeks on their blogs to write in response to a keyword and with reference to multiple module set texts/performances.

Reading Lists