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EN2F0/EN3F0 Restoration Drama

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Lecture: Monday 11:00-12:00, Seminar: Monday 12:00-1:00. (Term 2)

Convenor: Dr Teresa Grant, H516. 

Teaching methods 1 x 1 hour lecture weekly; 1 x 1 hour seminar weekly, both in SO10 in Social Sciences.

EN2/3F0 Restoration Drama - (15 CATS) – term 2 only

This module explores the drama during one of the most exciting and innovative periods of English theatre. When the monarchy was restored in 1660 - following more than a decade of Puritan rule - the theatres were reopened. But after 18 long years during which public performance had been criminalized and the playhouses shut, it wasn’t simply a case of actors and theatre managers picking up where they’d left off. New performance spaces, new kinds of drama, and new repertories had to be created. Crucially, women were, for the very first time, permitted to appear on the public stage: this is the age of the first actresses.

In this module, we’ll particular attention to the relationship between the forms of drama that emerged in the period and the material and political contexts of the theatre. The late seventeenth century English stage is perhaps best known for its comedies and we’ll consider both how far the conventions of this genre changed over the course of the period and the extent to which comedy offered writers a vehicle for reinforcing or contesting contemporary conceptions of sexuality. At the same time, we will look at examples of heroic drama, the burlesque, Shakespearean adaptation and tragedy, as a means of exploring the broader history of generic experimentation in decades shaped by a sequence political and religious crises that saw the beginnings of party politics and constitutional monarchy.

This module can be paired with EN2/33F1: Early Modern Drama to make a coherent 30 CATS two-term option which will deal with English drama and its contexts 1574 to 1709.

Outline Syllabus

Week 1, The First Restoration Plays: The Adventures of Five Hours (1662) by Samuel Tuke

Week 2, Heroic Drama: The Conquest of Granada, Parts 1 and 2 (1670) by John Dryden

Week 3, Burlesque: The Rehearsal (1671) by Buckingham

Week 4, The Rake’s Progress: The Rover (1677) by Aphra Behn

Week 5, Rewriting Shakespeare: All for Love (1677) by John Dryden

Week 6, Reading Week

Week 7, Comedy After the Revolution: Love's Last Shift (1696) by Colley Cibber and The Relapse (1696) by John Vanbrugh

Week 8, Negotiating Marriage: The Way of the World (1700) by William Congreve

Week 9, Comedy Outside the Capital: The Recruiting Officer (1706) by George Farquhar

Week 10, Comedy on the reformed stage?: The Busie Body (1709) by Susannah Centlivre


The coursebook will be Restoration Drama: An Anthology, ed. David Womersley (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000).

Restoration Critical Writings
John Dryden, from An Essay of Dramatic Poesie (1668)
John Dryden, "Of Heroic Plays" (1672)
Thomas Rymer, from A Short View of Tragedy (1693)
Congreve to Dennis, 'Concerning Humour in Comedy' (1700)



The coursebook will be Restoration Drama: An Anthology, ed. David Womersley (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000). All the primary texts are in this anthology.

An extensive reading list for this module can be found here:

The Library has access to the database Eighteenth-Century Drama, Censorship and the Stage. It contains scans of all volumes of The London Stage 1660-1800 which means you can access a complete calendar of plays for each playing season and their dates. Gold dust for essay research.



Intermediate Years: The module is 50% assessed (a 2000 word essay) and 50% examined (a one-hour examination paper)

Final Years: The module is 50% assessed (a 3000 word essay) and 50% examined (a one-hour examination paper)

Exchange student essay questions

Assessed Essay Questions

Past exam papers