ENGL452 - English Drama from 1660 to 1800

This course will explore the ways in which Restoration and 18th-century drama reflected the social universe of the audiences it entertained, but also served as a cosmopolitan point of entry to the city, the nationa, and the world. With razor wit and devastating insight, the comedies explore the effects of modernity on desire, marriage, sexuality, gender, love, ambition, and security. Both comedies and tragedies, however, often explore these tensions in the context of the nation's commercial, imperial, and colonial ambitions by setting plays in exotic locations, suggesting the global foundations of local wealth, and exploring the possibilities of virtue in a commercial world, often through analogies between material and erotic desire. Authors may include William Wycherely, Aphra Behn, John Dryden, Susanna Centlivre, Joseph Addison, George Etherege, George Lillo, John Gay, Elizabeth Inchbald, R.B. Sheridan, and Richard Cumberland. The emphasis will be on comedy given its popularity in the period: the function of comedy, how it changes from the Restoration to the end of the eighteenth century, the politics of comedy, the significance of the actor, and the place of the theater in the social world of the period. We will also look at the ways in which the period tried to reimagine tragedy and heroism.


Two English courses in literature or permission of department.