LIT3048 : Women Playwrights on the International Stage: 1880s-1930s

Convener(s): Dr Frances Babbage


Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course Convenor.

General Information

This seminar-based module introduces plays from the 1880-1930s to explore the vital role of women writers in the development of modern drama. Studying drama in the Social Realist tradition, for example by Elizabeth Robins, Marie Lenéru, Amelia Rosselli, we will examine the tensions attached to being a woman writing in a period marked by an extraordinary increase in women’s activism. Alongside such work, we will consider experimental plays in Symbolist and Expressionist modes, for example by Rachilde, Zinaida Gippius, Djuna Barnes and others who aligned themselves with a primarily male avant-garde, where representations of ‘the feminine’ are typically highly ambivalent. In addition, the module will examine the intersection of gender, class and race, for example by studying the work of the black feminist writer Marita Bonner, written within the context of the (so-called) Harlem Renaissance. In all cases, the plays will be studied in conjunction with non-dramatic documents of the period, including texts of pro- and anti-suffrage speeches, essays in the emergent 'science' of sexology, poetry and the visual arts.


The module will be taught through weekly seminars. Two to three weeks will incorporate unassessed small group presentations of research material. Ideally the module will also include a theatre visit, but this cannot be guaranteed since it is dependent on current repertoires.


The module is assessed by (i) 2 x 2,000 word essays; OR (ii) 1 x 4,000 word essay. The assessment will test your understanding of the material, skills in close reading, and ability to make meaningful connections between literary/dramatic texts and contextual documents of the period. Option (ii), the 4,000 word essay, also provides an opportunity for students working on an undergraduate dissertation or contemplating further research to develop skills in producing more extended and wide-ranging analysis.

Contact Details

0114 222 8479

Information last changed: Tuesday 21st of March 2017 :: 09:25:05 AM (GMT)

may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK