ENGL412: Restoration & Eighteenth-century Drama

Course Syllabus for "ENGL412: Restoration & Eighteenth-century Drama"

Please note: this legacy course does not offer a certificate and may contain broken links and outdated information. Although archived, it is open for learning without registration or enrollment. Please consider contributing updates to this course on GitHub (you can also adopt, adapt, and distribute this course under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license). To find fully-supported, current courses, visit our Learn site.

This course will introduce you to the range of drama written and performed in England and Continental Europe between roughly 1660 and1800, a period often termed “the long eighteenth century.”  In this course, we will refer to the “long-eighteenth century” as the period that began with the Restoration of the English monarchy with King Charles II following the English Civil War and concluded with the first years of the nineteenth century.  During this period, drama flourished in England, France, and Germany.  After quite a long period in which theater was not in vogue, the emergence of brilliant new dramatists, the development of novel forms of plays (including derivates of the Italian opera, comedy, and the musical), and the passage of laws that finally allowed women actors on stage sparked renewed interest amongst theatergoers.  In this course, we will explore the major plays, players, and playhouses from this era in conjunction with a thorough and in-depth historical contextualization. This course has been arranged to first acquaint you with the broader socio-historical and literary context in which Restoration and eighteenth-century drama burgeoned and flourished.  We will begin with a detailed introduction to the Restoration era, which will discuss the causes of the English Civil War, the Stuart Restoration of King Charles the II, and the social, cultural, political, and scientific dimensions of Restoration life.  Once we have historicized the Restoration, we will do the same for the eighteenth-century, focusing on the English monarchy, the “Scientific Revolution,” and the Enlightenment as well as the variety of new forms of theater that emerged and developed during this dynamic and exciting age.  Subsequent units of the course will focus on Restoration and eighteenth-century drama from various nationalistic perspectives (English, German, and French).  Here, we will investigate—among other genres—English Restoration and Sentimental comedy, Heroic and Pathetic drama, political satire; the German “Sturm und Drang” tradition; and French Harlequin theater.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Provide an introduction to and brief overview of both the Restoration and the eighteenth-century in terms of their history, politics, and culture and especially their drama.
  • Identify and describe the major movements and developments in the theatre of this era (including, for example, heroic drama, pathetic drama, Restoration comedy, sentimental comedy, political satire, and opera).
  • Compare and contrast the British drama from these eras to that of both Germany and France and especially in the context of the work of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Friedrich Schiller, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Pierre de Marivaux, and Voltaire.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course you must:
√    Have access to a computer.
√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.
√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).
√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.
√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).
√    Be competent in the English language.
Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.