Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Writing Women for the Public Stage, 1670-1780
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2hr seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  2,500 word essay  One essay of 2,500 words  60%
Semester Assessment 4 Hours   30 minute summative group oral presentation  Half day for rehearsal and half day for actual exam 1 week apart. Room with DP and blackout ability required. Small seminar room.  40%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed element or make good any missing elements. Should this involve resubmission a new topic must be selected 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this modules, students should be able to:
1 demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a range of plays from the Restoration and eighteenth-century period

2 articulate this knowledge in the form of reasoned critical analysis of particular texts

3 locate the texts studied in appropriate literary, historical, and cultural contexts

4 engage with, relevant aspects of recent scholarly and/or critical debates about the texts studied


1. Introduction: women, performance, and spectatorship theory
Staging women: sex, prostitution and immorality
2. Restoration comedy and making the private public: George Etheredge, The Man of Mode (1676)
3. Politicising women: Aphra Behn, The Feigned Courtesans (1679)
4. Women and the anti-theatrical debate: selections from Jeremy Collier, Short View of the Immorality and Profaness of the English Stage (1698)
5. Dramatising feminine power: Susanna Centlivre, The Busy Body (1709)
6. Commodification and Prostitution: Eliza Haywood, A Wife to Be Lett (1723)
Staging the nation: women and Britishness
7. Women making the national poet: selections from Thompson and Roberts (eds.) Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900
8. Re-writing comedy, re-writing women: Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1773)
9. National identity and the domestic matron: Elizabeth Griffith, The Times (1779)
10. Cosmopolitan Women and feminine conduct: Hannah Cowley, The Belles Stratagem (1780)

Brief description

This module will focus on plays of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century, and will explore relevant literary and cultural contexts. Students will consider these texts in relation to recent scholarly debate concerning spectatorship theory and the role of the theatre in sustaining and promoting national identity.


This module will examine plays from the period 1670-1780 focusing on the representation of women on stage after the legitimization of women's public performance during the Restoration.

In the first half of the module students will explore contemporary anxieties regarding public women and the voyeuristic potential of female bodies on stage. They will consider the ways in which contemporary commentators defined women's place in society in relation to the increasing opportunities for women's public presence. By examining dramatic texts and philosophical writings concerned with women's place in society, their education, marriage and appropriate conduct, this module aims to illustrate a transition from the objectification of female bodies on stage to the de-sexualisation of women's public presences which many scholars have associated with domestication and disempowerment.

The second half of the module will move away from such assertions by reading these texts alongside contemporary interpretations of women's public roles. Students will discuss the theatrical potential of the female body, not as an object of titillation but as an icon with a propagandistic political function. They will consider the ways in which playwrights created women who represented contemporary notions of the ideal Briton. The module aims to challenge the assumption that women's dramatic roles during this period were increasingly restricted to domestic duty. Students will read these texts as contributions to broad debates concerning British national identity and they will consider the role played by women in publicising and promoting nationalism.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Written communication in essays. Spoken communication in seminar participation. (not assessed) Group discussion and presentation (not assessed)
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing time-management skills. (not assessed) Independent reading and research
Personal Development and Career planning Critical self-reflection and development of transferable communication and research skills
Problem solving Developing evaluative analysis and critical skills in a controlled argument
Research skills Developing independent study. Relating literary texts to historical and interpretative contexts
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical/ theoretical analysis of literary texts and evaluation of broad theoretical concepts.
Team work Group work in seminars. Preparing and presenting group presentations

Reading List

Should Be Purchased
Finberg, Melinda (ed.) (1991) Eighteenth-century Women Dramatists Oxford University Press Primo search Goldsmith, Oliver, Ogden, James (ed.) (2001) She Stoops to Conquer Primary text New Mermaids Primo search McMillin, Scott (ed.) (1997) Restoration and Eighteenth-century Comedy Norton Primo search Spencer, Jane (ed.) (1998) The Rover and Other Plays Oxford University Press Primo search
Essential Reading
Cunningham, Vanessa (April 2008) Shakespeare and Garrick Cambridge University Press Primo search Straub, Kristina (1992) Sexual Suspects: Eighteenth-Century Players and Sexual Ideology Princeton University Press Primo search
Recommended Text
Freeman, Lisa (2001) Character's Theatre: Cenre adn Identity on the Eighteenth-Century English Stage University of Pennsylvania Press Primo search Howe, Elizabeth (1992) The First English Actresses: Women and Drama, 1660-1700 Cambridge University Press Primo search Hume, Robert D. (1983) The Rakish Stage: Studies in English Drama, 1660-1800 Southern Illinois University Press Primo search Mangan, Michael (2003) Staging Masculinities: History, Gender, Performance Palgrave Primo search Marsden, Jean I. (ed.) (1991) The Appropriateion of Shakespeare: Post-Rennaissance REconstructions of the Works and the Myth Harvester Wheatsheaf Primo search Marshall, Louise H. (2008) National myth and imperial fantasy : representations of Britishness on the early eighteenth-century stage Palgrave Macmillan Primo search Morgan & Lyons (eds.) (1994) Female Playwrights of teh Restoration Everyman Primo search Orr, Bridget (2001) Empire on the English Stage Cambridge University Press Primo search Pearson, Jacqueline (1998) The Prostitute Muse: Images of Women and Women Dramatists 1642-1737 Harvester Primo search West Scheil, Katherine (2003) The Taste of the Town: Shakespearian Comedy and the Early Eighteenth Century Theater Bucknell University Press Primo search
Recommended Background
Dobson, Michael, (1994) The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship Oxford University Press Primo search Thompson, A. & Roberts, S. (eds.) (1997) Women Reading Shakespeare 1600-1900: An Anthology Manchester University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6