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EN2D8/EN3D8 European Theatre

Information for anyone interested in taking this module in 2019-20

Module Convenors 2019/2020: Carol Rutter (term 1) and Paul Prescott (term 2)

Lectures & Seminars 2019-2020

Lectures: Mondays 4:00-5:00 (MS03)

Seminars: Monday 5:30-7:00, Tuesday 4:00-5:30; Wednesday 10:00-11:30; Thursday 4:00-5:30.

ESSAYS: Term 1 essays are due in week 11

Term 2 essays are due in week 11

NB- An invaluable Library resource is Drama Online -

This gives you free access to hundreds of plays, including most of those on the European Theatre reading list –some in several different translations. It also includes (American) readings of many of them.


This module is one of two Pathway Requirements for the World and Comparative Literature Pathway. This is also a Distributional Requirement for the English Pathway and an option for the other pathways.

The course aims:

  • To introduce a range of major plays from the European dramatic tradition, concentrating on revenge tragedy, seventeenth-century comedy, metatheatre and Naturalism, and on conflicting twentieth-century concepts of dramatic ideology and form.
  • To study plays in their historical context and as texts for performance, which involves reference to the original staging conventions and to modern productions. Where possible, plays are studied in performance - on stage or on the screen.
  • To explore changing theatrical representations of class and gender.
  • To consider the relationship between dramatic form, intellectual debate and cultural conditions, as reflected in the plays and theatrical periods in question.
  • To introduce students to a number of theories of the drama, with reference to their practical application in playtexts and production.
  • To consider the uses dramatists have made of existing genres and traditions.
  • To develop students’ ability to analyze dramatic texts both as literature and as texts for performance.



Term 1

Weeks 1-5: Introduction, Greek tragedy and its legacy

Weeks 7-10: Tragedy and comedy in seventeenth-century theatre

Term 2

Weeks 1-5: The late nineteenth century: Naturalism and after.

Weeks: 7-10: Currents and controversies in twentieth-century drama.

Term 3

 Weeks 2-3: Reviewing European Theatre.



There will be weekly 1-hour lectures and 1½-hour seminars.



Term 1

Week 1 Aeschylus, The Oresteia (Carol Rutter)

Week 2 Sophocles, Oedipus the King (Steve Purcell) - Link to Aristotle's Poetics 

Week 3 Sophocles, Antigone (Matt Franks)

Week 4 Euripides, The Bacchae (Steve Purcell)

Week 5 Aristophanes, The Frogs (Steve Purcell)

Week 6 Reading week

Week 7 Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy (Carol Rutter)

Week 8 Calderon, Life's a Dream (Tony Howard) - Link to Lope de Vega: New Art of Writing Plays

Week 9 Moliere, Tartuffe (Steve Purcell) - Link to Molière's La Critique de L’École des Femmes (1663) (scroll to p. 297)

Week 10 Racine, Phèdre (Matt Franks)

Term 2

Week 1 Ibsen, Hedda Gabler (Matt Franks)

Week 2 Chekhov, The Seagull (Paul Prescott)

Week 3 Strindberg, Miss Julie (Steve Purcell)

Week 4 Wedekind, Spring's Awakening (Matt Franks)

Week 5 Brecht, Life of Galileo (Carol Rutter)

Week 6 Reading week

Week 7 Lorca, Yerma (Matt Franks)

Week 8 Beckett, Endgame (Liz Barry)

Week 9 Churchill, The Skriker (Matt Franks)

Week 10 Reza, Art (Paul Prescott)

 Term 3

Week 1: no classes

Week 2: revision lecture and seminars

Week 3: revision seminars



The module is assessed by two essays and a two-hour summer exam. See English Dept. Undergraduate handbook for details.

 Creative project: One of your assessed pieces may be a 'creative project'. This can for example be an original literary response to one of the plays on the course, a production plan, or a visual (e.g. video) project. It must be accompanied by a prose piece of c.1,000 words outlining the aims of the project and reflecting on its development. Students wishing to submit a creative project should discuss it with their tutor as early as possible and must agree a title with the Convenor by Monday of week 6 of the term in which the piece will be submitted.


Term 1 essay questions

Term 2 essay questions

By the end of the module you should have

  • Acquired knowledge of several major trends in European theatre and of the work of historically-significant playwrights
  • Developed a sense of the expressive possibilities of different dramatic languages: for example, poetic rhetoric, naturalistic dialogue, the choric voice, subtext, mise en scene, movement
  • Gained some familiarity with theoretical debates, including Aristotle, Stanislavski and Brecht
  • Acquired skills in reading dramatic texts
  • Developed your argumentative skills in academic essays


The set text, which you should buy, for the first half of Term 1 is:

  • Richard W. Corrigan (ed.) Classical Tragedy, Greek and Roman (Applause Books)
  • [Since copies of this text may be hard to find at short notice, you may study the plays for the first half of Term 1 in other editions (though this will be more expensive). The Oresteia is available in affordable Penguin Classics, Oxford World Classics and Drama Classics editions, as is The Bacchae (also spelled Bakkhai). Antigone and Oedipus can often be purchased in the same volume, e.g. Penguin Books' The Three Theban Plays. Tony Harrison's translation of The Oresteia is available in Tony Harrison: Plays 4, Faber.]

Many plays studied later in this module are available in several editions. Recommended texts :

  • Aristophanes, Frogs and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)
  • Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy (Revels Student Edition)
  • Calderon, Life is a Dream, trans. John Clifford (Drama Classics, Nick Hern Books)
  • Moliere, Tartuffe (NHB Drama Classics)
  • Racine, Iphigenia, Phaedra and Athaliah (Penguin Classics)
  • Ibsen, Three Plays (Drama Classics, NHB)
  • Strindberg, Plays One (Methuen)
  • Chekhov, Four Plays (Drama Classics, NHB)
  • Wedekind, Spring's Awakening (Applause)
  • Lorca, The House of Bernada Alba and Other Plays (Penguin)
  • Brecht, Life of Galileo, trans. John Willett (Methuen)
  • Beckett, Endgame (Faber)
  • Churchill, The Skriker (NHB)
  • Reza, Art (Faber)

N.B. all of the primary texts are available to read online via Drama Online. This resource is free for Warwick students.

Please note - you can access the film Dionysus in 69 here: