Module Information

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

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Coursework Assignment  3000-word comparative critical essay, or; 2000-word creative piece and a 1000-word commentary.  100%
Supplementary Assessment Coursework Assignment  3000-word comparative critical essay, or; 2000-word creative piece and a 1000-word commentary.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

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

Articulate this knowledge in the form of reasoned critical analysis of particular texts.

Locate the texts studied in appropriate literary, historical, and cultural contexts.

Engage with relevant aspects of recent scholarly and / or critical debates about the texts studied.

Brief description

This module examines a series of plays from the period 1670-1780. Taking as its starting point the legitimization of women’s public performance at the Restoration, the module focuses on the development of women’s roles and the rise of the star actress. Students will read dramatic texts that reveal contemporary anxieties regarding women’s public performance alongside texts that capitalise upon the commercial rewards to be gained from placing female bodies on the public stage. They will discuss the development of Comedy from the bawdy humour of the Restoration era, through the sentimental sedateness of the mid-century, followed by the nationalistic patriotism of the closing decades of the Eighteenth Century. This module allows students to consider comedic convention alongside intersecting representations of women as objects of titillation, moral guides to domestic felicity, and icons with a propagandistic political function. The assessment for this module allows students to respond to either a critical or a creative task.


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


This module is delivered through a series of 2-hour seminars, 20 hours in total. Indicative topics for each session are as follows:

Women, performance, and spectatorship
William Wycherley, The Country Wife (1675)
Making the private public: George Etheredge, The Man of Mode (1676)
Disguising prostitution: Aphra Behn, The Feigned Courtesans (1679)
Queer performances: Susanna Centlivre, The Busy Body (1709)
Exposing prostitution: Eliza Haywood, A Wife to Be Lett (1723)
Domestic bawdy: Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1773)
Intergenerational dispute: Elizabeth Griffith, The Times (1779)
Fashionable femininities: Hannah Cowley, The Belle’s Stratagem (1780)
Having the last word: Prologues & Epilogues

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
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 Effective presentation of academic work including scholarly apparatus
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 Collaborative working through group discussion and active learning / problem-based learning in seminars


This module is at CQFW Level 5