Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Successful completion of Part One

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 ESSAYS OF 2000 WORDS EACH  50%
Semester Assessment SEMINAR CONTRIBUTION  10%

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Critically evaluate and demonstrate in both written and oral presentations the key issues and theories relating canon formation, cultural production, and the bestowal of aesthetic value judgements with particular reference to a wide range of ancient and modern dramatic texts.
  • Demonstrate (verbally and in writing) a comprehensive understanding of the foundations of Westerna drama, and the way in which it has informed/influenced current approaches to theatre and performance.
  • Demonstrate a confident ability to apply, cross reference and synthesize a range of critical theories when comparing and evaluating specific plays and their sources.
  • Explain and illustrate with reference to a range of examples, how rewriting the canon produces new or altered meanings and to what effect.


  • To provide students with a good knowledge and thorough understanding of the foundations of Western Drama, not only with respect to certain dramatists/plays but also with respect to i) development of genre ii) ancient theories of acting; iii) conventions of ancient theatre.
  • To provide the student with a good knowledge of a selection of ancient and modern play texts, and the relationship between them; the module aims to extend student awareness/aptitude to creativity re-read and question "received" reading practices.
  • To provide students with a confident knowledge of current critical theory and its applications to drama; theories relating to inter-textuality, canon formation and rewriting as a critical paradigm will be a key focus

Brief description

This module focuses on adaptations/rewrites of 'the classics' of antiquity with a view to posing questions such as: what is a classic? Is canonical status afforded to the ancients purely on the grounds of textual antiquity and endurance? Why adapt such works? Is such reworking reverential or subversive?

Between six and eight texts will be studied during the module (source texts and adaptations; number will vary according to density of works). Over and above a demonstrable understanding of ancient plays and the conventions of ancient theatre, this module will provide a detailed exploration of rewriting as a potentially radical, subversive and consciousness-raising critical paradigm that invites us to produce new, different and hitherto undisclosed meanings from and through the ancient source material. Gender stereotyping, identity and abjection, cultural imperialism, canonicity and aesthetics, and the 'politics of genre' will be just some of the issues raised by this analytical exploration of rewriting and adaptation.


Indicative lecture schedule (this schedule manages to achieve a balance between the key generic categories - tragedy, satire and comedy).

1: What is a Classic? Canon Formation and Rewriting the Ancients
2: The Trackers of Oxyrynchus and 'Art' regained: Harrison's Trackers and 'Sophocles' Satyric fragments.
3: Rewriting as a Critical Paradigm: Harrison's critique of Cultural Imperialism
4: The Island and 'Life' Art: Rewriting as Political Protest (Fugard and Sophocles' Antigone)
5 : Antigone as Christianised Martyr: Retrieving the Pharmakon
6 : Dramatists, Critics and The Classics (lecture based on variety of reviews/cuttings/articles in pre-distributed reader)
7 :Oedipus, Freudian Appropriations and Berkoff's Greek
8 : 'The Common Chorus' Pacifist Ancestors. Harrison's 'The Common Chorus', Aristophanes 'Lysistrata' and Euripides' 'The Trojan Women'.
9 : Tradition? Progressive or Subversive? A Summation

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Subject Specific Skills Students are encouraged to develop the use of a critical and analytical vocabulary in their written and oral response to issues concerning Ancient Theatre, Ancient Drama and its reception today and re-writing as a critical paradigm.


This module is at CQFW Level 6