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 nation, 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. The emphasis for the summer course will be on comedies, including plays by William Wycherley, Aphra Behn, George Etherege, R.B. Sheridan, and others. We will explore 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 actress, and the place of the theater in the social world of the period. In addition to discussion-intensive face to face meetings, students will also blog about the plays, watch streamed videos of filmed versions, complete papers and/or a research project, and take a final exam.


Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.