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Unit information: Melodrama in 2021/22

Unit name Melodrama
Unit code THTR20008
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Hindson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Theatre
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Melodrama and melodramatic conventions dominated the theatrical repertoire of the nineteenth century. Across a century and a half, the plays, theatres, audiences and stagings of melodrama varied significantly; and distinct themes and issues were explored in the changing genre. In this unit students will consider a wide range of melodramatic texts and productions from the Gothic drama of the late-eighteenth century to the society melodramas of Pinero and Wilde at the end of the nineteenth century. The unit will end with an exploration of early screen melodrama. Each performance text will be considered in its social, historical and theatrical contexts. Students will examine questions of class, identity, urbanisation, gender and crime in melodrama, and develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of, and critical frameworks for, working with popular theatrical culture. Students will use primary archival and secondary critical material to develop their own understanding of melodrama and its place within theatrical history.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have:

(1) developed their knowledge and critical understanding of the sub genres of melodrama, including gothic, nautical, social and society melodramas.

(2) developed their understanding of the changing social and historical conditions that informed and produced stage melodramas.

(3) acquired archival skills: locating material on a catalogue, calling up material, using some un-catalogued material.

(4) the ability to understand and evaluate critical responses to melodrama and to consider these in the context of wider understandings of popular culture.

(5) the ability to locate and explore primary and secondary material to create and sustain a cogent academic argument in presentation and essay formats.

Teaching Information

Weekly seminar; seminar presentations.

Assessment Information

(1) Open Book Timed Assessment (60%): ILOs 1-5

(2) seminar presentation (in pairs; fifteen minutes) for a group mark (40%): ILOs 1-5.

Detailed criteria for essays and seminar presentations are available in the Theatre handbook, which is available on Blackboard. The accompanying handout must include a bibliography for the presentation.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. THTR20008).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.