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Between the early modern period and the end of the nineteenth century, literature and performance developed in a dynamic, innovative relationship. The inventiveness of Renaissance drama went hand in hand with an explosion in print culture. Later periods saw the emergence of the novel and radical changes in poetic and theatrical form as writers and performers participated in far-reaching social, political and technological transformations. Drawing on printed texts, archival materials and performance documentation, this subject introduces students to the range of critical skills required for the study of literature and theatre: close reading and an understanding of literary form; the analysis of narrative, theme and character; the interpretation of performance. It does so with reference to some of the most significant global developments of the period: colonialism, revolution, and changing conceptions of the self. The result is a significant insight into how and why literature and performance in English look and sound the way they do today.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the material conditions and performance traditions of Renaissance, Romantic and realist literary texts;
- work independently to develop and effectively communicate understandings of complex literary material and criticism;
- apply critical and analytical skills unique to English and Theatre Studies to the representation of subjectivity and the self within complex and changing historical contexts; and
- articulate the relationship between diverse forms of knowledge and the social, historical and cultural contexts that produced them, including a detailed understanding of selected plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries; of selected poems by the Romantics, and of selected novels and plays of the 19th century.
At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills (in the areas of):
- research: through competent use of library, and other (including online) information sources; through the successful definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research;
- critical thinking and analysis: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the questioning of accepted wisdom and the ability to shape and strengthen persuasive judgments and arguments; through attention to detail in reading material; and through openness to new ideas and the development of critical self-awareness;
- theoretical thinking: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through a productive engagement with relevant methodologies and paradigms in literary studies and the broader humanities;
- creative thinking: through essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the innovative conceptualising of problems and an appreciation of the role of creativity in critical analysis;
- social, ethical and cultural understanding: through use of recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion; through the social contextualisation of arguments and judgments; through adaptations of knowledge to new situations and openness to new ideas; through the development of critical self-awareness in relation to an understanding of other cultures and practices; and
- intelligent and effective communication of knowledge and ideas: through essay preparation, planning and writing as well as tutorial discussion; through effective dissemination of ideas from recommended reading and other relevant information sources; through clear definition of areas of inquiry and methods of research; through confidence to express ideas in public forums.
Last updated: 9 September 2021