Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Writing Women for the Public Stage, 1670-1780
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 Hours   Essay Assignment  (1 x 2500 word essay)  60%
Practical Assessment 0.1 Hours   Group Oral Presentation  (30 minute group oral presentation)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit Essay Assignment  (1 x 2500 word essay)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit oral assessment  (Submit an audio recording a slides for an individual 10-minute oral presentation)  40%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of a range of plays from the Restoration and eighteenth-century period.

2. Articulate this knowledge in the form of reasoned critical anaysis 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.

Work effectively as part of a team and deliver a presentation.


To add diversification to the portfolio of options within the department.

Brief description

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 be encouraged to read these texts as contributions to broad debates concerning British national identity and they will be asked to consider the role played by women in publicising and promoting nationalism.


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)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Written communication in essays. Spoken communication in seminar participation. Group discussion and presentation.
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing time-management skills. Independent reading and research.
Information Technology
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


This module is at CQFW Level 5