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Unit information: Revolution, Theatre, and the Public Sphere, 1789-1799 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 Revolution, Theatre, and the Public Sphere, 1789-1799
Unit code FREN30110
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Marianne Ailes
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will be taught by Dr Clare Siviter

'Revolution, Theatre, and the Public Sphere, 1789-1799' traces how the French who experienced the Revolution engaged with political debates through the largest entertainment forum of the period: theatre. In addition, this unit considers how Revolutionary playwrights broke their inherited dramatic moulds and wrote for the newly liberated people whilst also investigating how pre-existing plays were adapted for new political causes.


  • To introduce students to a body of work performed during the Revolution and the evolution of these works over the course of time.
  • To develop the students’ synthesis, analysis, and research abilities to a level suitable for final year undergraduates and in preparation for postgraduate study.
  • To train students on using archival resources and developing methodologies such as performance as research, alongside their engagement with twentieth and twenty-first-century theoretical models.
  • To nuance the students’ approach to the political and theatrical history of the Revolution and the differences between Paris and the provinces.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a high level of knowledge of the theatre of the second half of the eighteenth century
  2. Articulate sophisticated and complex analysis in both written and oral formats, and as appropriate to level H
  3. Use different research methodologies, including the use of archives
  4. Demonstrate the ability to analyse complex material and reach critical judgements as appropriate to level H
  5. Present material professionally in an oral format

Teaching details

1 x weekly lecture

1 x weekly seminar

Students will also make use of digital humanities databases (notably and online libraries (especially Gallica).

Assessment Details

1 x 3,000 word essay assessing ILOs 1-4 (75%)

1 x 15-minute oral presentation assessing ILOs 1-5 (25%)

Reading and References

Marié-Joseph Chénier, Théâtre, ed. by Gauthier Ambrus and François Jacob (Paris: Flammarion, 2002)

Laya, L'Ami des lois, ed. by Mark Darlow and Yann Robert (London: MHRA, 2011)

Sylvain Maréchal, Le Jugement dernier des rois (Paris: Patris, 1793) Gallica:

Charles Collé, La Partie de Chasse de Henri IV (Paris: Veuve Duchesne, 1766) Gallica:

Michel-Jean Sedaine and André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry, Richard Cœur de Lion (Paris: Didot, 1786) Gallica:

Jean Racine, Athalie, ed. by George's Forestier (Paris: Folio, 2001)


Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trans. by Thomas Burger (Cambridge: Polity, 1989)

Christopher Balme, The Theatrical Public Sphere (Cambridge: CUP, 2014)

André Lefevere, Translation, Rewriting and thé Manipulation of the Literary Frame (London: Routledge, 1992)

Jacky Bratton, New Readings in Theatre History (Cambridge: CUP, 2003)