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TH319 - Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Approaches to Theatre Historiography

  • Module code: TH319
  • Module name: Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Approaches to Theatre Historiography
  • Department: School of Theatre & Performance Studies and Cultural & Media Policy Studies
  • Credit: 30

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the ways in which we study theatre history. Why do we privilege some periods over others? Why are some aspects of theatre history neglected by scholars? What are the assumptions behind our interpretation of documentary evidence? What choices do we make about the theoretical models we use? How did theatre history emerge as an academic discipline? What sorts of narrative inform our study of theatre history? What factors determine the ways in which we write about theatre history? This module aims to investigate the ways in which the historical study of acting, audiences, theatres, performance and their contexts are heavily influenced by the assumptions, prejudices and ideological beliefs of those who have written about such matters.

Principal learning outcomes

Learning outcomes include a greater critical awareness of the relationship between evidence, documentation and interpretation, the value of taking nothing on trust, and an understanding of how different systems of knowledge and belief impact on the original form that documentary evidence takes, especially in relation to the ephemeral nature of live performance. Students develop research skills and methodologies and the confidence to apply them to a wide range of topics. They also develop skills in data retrieval and diverse skills in communicating and disseminating data in a variety of ways.

Timetabled teaching activities

There will be weekly two-hour seminars in the Autumn and Spring terms.

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
30 CATS (Module code: TH319-30)
A1 (Assessed work only) Written Portfolio 1 10%
  Project-based Assessment 30%
  Written Portfolio 2 10%
VA (Visiting students only) 100% assessed (visiting/exchange students) 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


  • Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies (QW34) - Year 3
  • Undergraduate English and Theatre Studies with Intercalated Year (QW35) - Year 4
  • Undergraduate Theatre and Performance Studies (W421) - Year 3
  • Undergraduate Theatre and Performance Studies (with Intercalated Year) (W422) - Year 4