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 plays in the Social Realist tradition, by Elizabeth Robins, Marie Lenéru, Amelia Rosselli and others, we will examine the tensions attached to being a woman writing in a period marked by dramatic increase in women’s activism. Alongside these, we will consider plays within Symbolist and Expressionist modes by Rachilde, Zinaida Gippius, Djuna Barnes and others who aligned themselves with the primarily male avant-garde, where representations of ‘the feminine’ are typically highly ambivalent. In addition, the module will reflect on the distinctive contribution of the black woman writer Marita Bonner within the context of the (so-called) Harlem Renaissance. In all cases the plays will be studied in conjunction with non-dramatic documents, including texts of pro- and anti-suffrage speeches and examples from the visual arts.


The module will be taught through weekly seminars, with the addition of two workshops that explore through practice the contrasting demands and possibilities of realist and symbolist theatrical styles. The module is thus strongly based in research and discussion, but enhanced by concentrated experiences of putting texts ‘on their feet’ - for which no prior practical experience of theatre is necessary - designed to give you a clearer appreciation of the intricacies of aesthetic/politic debates. 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

Dr Frances Babbage 0114 222 8479

Information last changed: Friday 26th of February 2016 :: 02:26:56 PM (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