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Module Outline

Week 1 - An introduction to... the module

Lecture: Why is it important to study the history of women in British theatre? Understanding feminist theory, looking at critical writing on representations of women, exploring why there is a male canon and the implications of this on documentation of women.

Seminar: What is greatness?

Seminar Task: Bring an image of someone that you think is worthy of being called ‘great‘ and be prepared to explain why

Week 2 - An introduction to... great female dramatists

Lecture: 'Looking back from 1831, James Boaden, who wrote biographies of several major theatre figures of Inchbald's time, saw only four women since the Restoration who had achieved eminence as comic dramatists: Aphra Behn, Susanna Centlivre, Hannah Cowley and Elizabeth Inchbald.'

Seminar: Which dramatist deserves to be remembered?

Seminar Task: The class will be split in to four, each group will read a play by one of the playwrights. Be prepared to argue why your play should be remembered.

Week 3 - An introduction to... great actresses

Lecture: An exploration of Rosamond Gilder’s statement that ‘women have risen to greater heights of achievement as actress than in any other art’ through studying Ellen Terry, Mrs Patrick Campbell, Janet Achurch, Mary Betterton

Seminar: Critics and Audience Opinion

Seminar Task: Find a review of one of the actresses studies in the lecture and be prepared to discuss what you can learn from it in class.

Week 4 - An introduction to... great theatre managers

Lecture: Exploring Jackie Bratton’s statement that ‘powerful women in the theatre, as performers and managers, are co-creators of plays made for their use in a kind of performative intertextuality’ through the lives of Sarah Lane, Madame Vestris, Madge Kendal, Effie Bancroft, Lillian Baylis

Seminar: Assessment One - Academic Posters

Seminar Task: Choose a woman we have studied so far to create an academic poster on. Start making them in class and carry them on over the week to hand in Friday week 5 before reading week.

Week 5 - Biography and Autobiography: Representation and Myth-Making

Lecture: Looking at the implications of the representation of women, by evaluating Mary Jean Corbett assertion that ‘an autobiography or memoir is less an originary act of self-expression than another formally constrained or determined mode of performance’

Seminar: Exploring Tracy Davis’ ‘Actresses As Working Women’

Seminar Task: No task this week - continue work on academic posters for Friday Week 5 Deadline


Assessment Two - Research Presentation

Task: Find a woman who has played a role in the development of theatre history but has been forgotten. Create a presentation, in groups, that informs the class on who this woman is and why you think she deserves to be remembered. To be performed in Week 8 Seminar.

Week 7 - Wives, Mistresses and Paper Courtships

Lecture: Exploring the process of being deemed a stage celebrity and the growing fascination with women’s sexual exploits over their career triumphs. Focusing on the memorable relationships between Ellen Terry and Henry Irving and Mrs Patrick Campbell and George Bernard Shaw, Perdita Robinson and George IV, Nell Gwynn and Charles II as well as Garrick’s ‘petticoat playwrights’

Seminar: How far are women remembered for their own achievements rather than their relationships?

Seminar Task: Find a modern day example of a woman who is arguably remembered for her relationship, not for her own merit, be ready to discuss in class.

Week 8 - Political Theatre: Democracy, Citizenship and Empowerment

Lecture: Beginning with The Actress Franchise League, investigate the journey from women’s fight for suffrage to their involvement in political theatre today. Looking particularly at Suffrage plays, Emma Conns, Sarah Kane and the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970s.

Seminar: Assessment Two - Research Presentation

Seminar Task: Be ready to present your research presentation for the class and to answer any questions

Week 9 - Re: Enactment: a performative approach to understanding theatre history

Lecture: Defining Re: Enactment and evaluating its value as a form of historiographical methodology

Seminar: Gilli Bush Bailey and Fanny Kelly: Dramatic Recollections

Seminar Task: Come prepared to perform extracts from Dramatic Recollections

Week 10 - Looking Ahead: Women in the 20th Century and Beyond

Lecture: Considering some of the women who have been prominent in the last century: Buzz Goodbody, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Caryl Churchill, Joan Littelwood and emerging females in the theatre

Seminar: Moving forward, how can we make sure that the women who are making a difference in British theatre today are remembered?

Seminar Task: Think about women in today’s theatre who you think are important and be prepared to discuss their impact on the theatre industry in class for a discussion