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The University of Southampton

ENGL1091 World Dramas

Module Overview

In this module, you will learn how to approach dramatic texts in a way that takes into consideration their place in the world as a complex political, economic, and cultural network. We will focus on questions such as: • What is the difference between reading a play and watching a play? • How do playwrights adapt popular stories and how do they create new work designed specifically for stage? • How can film accommodate texts written for live performance? • How will we approach a play differently if we take the world, rather than a community or a nation-specific setting, as its context? • How can our engagement with non-Western dramas help us reconsider our ways of seeing, judging and living in the world we know? This module will explore some of the most important ideas behind the development of theatre as an art form, both in English-speaking countries and beyond. It will enable you to understand the basic principles of dramatic composition, such as narrative, style, and structure, and it will introduce you to critical and theoretical methods for analysing dramatic texts on page, on stage, and on screen.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Understanding of the concept of drama as a composite and collaborative art form; a sense of a play-text as a blueprint for performance, a starting point for directors, actors, and designers
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse plays for their visual, aural, performative and literary elements
  • Evaluate how visual and aural components of performance combine to speak to their audiences and create emotional and cognitive impact
  • Evaluate the efficacy of key theories and critical methods pertinent to analysis of dramatic texts
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • research a topic or issue independently
  • write in a range of registers appropriate for different purposes and readerships
  • construct a reasoned, well written argument based on research and analysis of text


This module seeks to show how the disciplines of performance studies, music, literature, theatre history and visual culture can all help us understand why theatre not only survives, but continues to thrive in the twenty-first century, both in the UK and the US and beyond. It introduces key methods of analysis of play texts and performances, encouraging you to think critically about the status of dramatic texts as literature and as scripts, i.e. parts of larger, composite works of art. At the end of the module you should have a broad understanding of the techniques of analysis appropriate for theatre, both on page and on stage. Looking at a wide range of texts including, but not limited to, translations of ancient Greek drama, Shakespeare, Beckett, and "world dramas" of the twenty first century, the module will explore a number of key dramatic concepts, each examined with reference to a particular play. These include: narrative; dramaturgy; character; mise en scène; visual structure; and sound and music. We will be asking how plays narrate or ‘tell’ stories, and how they achieve their emotional and cognitive effects. Aspects of theatre history, performance theory, and critical practice will be threaded through our work. Wherever possible the module will encourage you to explore drama first hand, most readily through plays put on by the Nuffield Southampton Theatres, and there may be the opportunities for other, optional visits to the theatre in Stratford or London.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars • learning support hours • Theatre visits: where participation in such a trip is a requirement for completion of the module, and in the event that you have an issue such as a disability or illness that may prevent you from attending, you should consult the Module Convenor. Wherever reasonably possible, efforts will be made to accommodate you on the trip, or to provide a suitable alternative study activity in substitute for the trip. • Individual consultations Learning activities include • Independent study, including reading, viewing and researching • Group blogging on blackboard • Peer appraisal of writing • Writing in different registers for different purposes This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour may include (but need not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Wider reading or practice50
Completion of assessment task30
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Follow-up work10
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Maria Delgado and Paul Heritage (1996). In Contact with the Gods? Directors Talk Theatre. 

Dennis Kennedy (1993). Shakespeare: a Visual History of Twentieth-Century Performance. 

Peter Meineck (2018). Theatrocracy. 

Jonathan Culpeper, Mick Short, Peter Verdonk (eds.) (1998). Exploring the Language of drama: From Text to Context. 

Paul Woodruff (2008). The Necessity of Theater. 

Susan Bennett (1990). Theatre Audiences, A Theory of production and Reception. 

Bruce R. Smith (1999). The Acoustic World of Early Modern England. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  (2200 words) 70%
Text analysis  (1200 words) 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Costs for this module will typically not exceed £30

Study Trips

Where tickets for a theatre trip cannot be subsidized by the department, the trip will be optional and the cost for the trip should typically not exceed £20

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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