ENGL452 - English Drama From 1660 to 1800

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

Restoration and eighteenth-century drama, with special attention to theater history, cultural influences, concepts of tragedy, comedy, farce, parody, and burlesque, as well as dramatic and verbal wit.

ENGL 452 DramaA hybrid course with some flexibility in attendance, this course will explore the exquisitely outrageous comedies of the Restoration and 18th Century in a multi-media format.  Student will read plays; watch streamed videos of performances and videos about the theater; listen to podcasts by the instructor; communicate with each other live and online; and conduct original research about the plays and about daily life in the eighteenth century through UMD’s extensive digital archives. With razor wit and devastating insight, these plays still have the power to entertain, disturb, and even offend through their frank explorations of sexuality, desire, marriage, gender, love, and ambition.

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. The plays explore sexual and romantic tensions in the context of the nation's commercial, imperial, and colonial ambitions, suggesting the global foundations of local wealth, and exploring the challenges to virtue in commercial society. We will read and watch (by video) 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 significance of the actor and actress, and the place of the theater in the social world. Student writing will include blog posts, a critical paper, and a research project.