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Unit information: Performance Histories in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Performance Histories
Unit code DRAM23125
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Eleanor Rycroft
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In Year 2 core units develop the approaches introduced in Year 1 and expand contextual frameworks. In this unit students are introduced to histories of performance, contextualised by the key theories that have informed the production of these histories. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Introduction to histories of performance
  • Medieval Performance
  • Early Modern Drama
  • 19th Century Theatre
  • Modernism and the Avant-Garde
  • 20th Century Realism

In this unit, students are expected to develop their analytical and creative skills and their ability to structure their work and present it coherently. The unit will enable students to make links between and be aware of comparative historical frameworks for the analysis of performance forms and contexts. It will develop and extend students’ critical and historical awareness and knowledge of a broad range of issues and problems encountered in performance practice.

  • To develop and extend students’ awareness and knowledge of a range of key historical issues in performance;
  • To develop students’ abilities in applying historical methodologies to textual analysis and performance practice;
  • To provide a contextual historical framework as an extension of formal skills of textual analysis acquired in Year 1;
  • To develop and extend students’ awareness and knowledge of a range of historically contextualised key critical-theoretical issues in performance;
  • By offering a series of contrasting and complementary ‘case studies’ that demonstrate a variety of performance responses to generic, historic and national conditions, introduce new research and presentation skills that critically engage with primary texts and secondary sources, employing web-based and archival resources.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate their acquisition of a detailed knowledge of particular key issues of performance practice and their key critical, historical and theoretical contexts;
  2. deploy historical approaches to understanding performance practices;
  3. evidence an awareness and understanding of different historic conditions, traditions and experiences which have impacted on the form, development and reception of performance;
  4. evidence an awareness and understanding of different critical-theoretical conditions, traditions and experiences which have impacted on the form, development and reception of performance;
  5. demonstrate research and presentation skills in essays and discursive forums that critically engage with a wide range of primary and secondary resources.

Teaching details

Blended teaching: 11 x 1hr lectures; 11 x 1hr seminars; Blackboard discussion board exercises, as appropriate.

Assessment Details

Assessment: 3,000-word essay (60%) (ILOs 1-5).

Student-led seminar presentation with accompanying handout (40%) (ILOs 1-5).

Reading and References

The Cambridge History of British Theatre (vols 1-3)

Gainor, J Ellen, Garner, B Jr, Puchner, M (2008) The Norton Anthology of Drama: Antiquity Through the Eighteenth Century, Goldfarb and Wilson.

Read, Alan (1993) Theatre in Everyday Life, London.

Schechner, R (2004) Performance Theory, London: Routledge.