Renaissance to Restoration Theatre

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Module code


  • Level 3
  • Semester 1
  • 24 places
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%


This new theatre history module introduces students to the drama of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, Caroline and Restoration periods by placing an emphasis on 'beyond text' study. Over the course of the module we use the play texts to access the specific playgoing cultures in which they were produced, tracing the development of British theatre from the late sixteenth through to the early eighteenth century.

Throughout the module, students will consider how a professional theatre industry can be understood to develop in early modern London, exploring theatre architecture, the formation of playing companies and the development of the city space. Students will also think about how performance worked in site-specific spaces (public and private playhouses, inn-yards and at court), how theatre intersects with other forms of spectacular entertainment, and how wider political and cultural events shaped the dramatic literature of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, Caroline and Restoration periods.


Dr Jennifer Barnes


This module will be taught by two-hour weekly seminars plus one-hour weekly lectures over 11 weeks.  


This module will include:

  • Essay of 3,000 words (40%)
  • Seminar Participation (10%)
  • Research essay (50%)


Primary Texts

  • Thomas Kydd, The Spanish Tragedy
  • John Pyckering, Horestes & Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great, Parts 1 and 2
  • William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors
  • Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, Philaster
  • William Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra
  • Ben Jonson, Epicene, or The Silent Woman
  • Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling
  • John Dryden, All for Love
  • William Wycherley, The Country Wife
  • Aphra Behn, The Rover and The Emperor of the Moon
  • Susanna Centlivre, The Busie Body

Excerpts from The Duchess of Malfi (John Webster) and The Tempest (John Dryden)

Access the online reading list system

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should have acquired:

  • An advanced knowledge of a variety of Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline and restoration dramatic works,
  • Informed knowledge of the historical and cultural development of British drama from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century,
  • An ability to apply different critical approaches to the dramatic literature of the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline and restoration periods,
  • An ability to approach the playtext through an awareness of original performance practices,
  • The knowledge to detect performance practices embedded in the playtext (directions indicating use of stage space, props, costume, etc.).