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Study information

Theatre Histories

Module titleTheatre Histories
Module codeDRA1015
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor Adrian Curtin (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Theatre is a global phenomenon that has existed for millennia. It has deep, interconnected roots and long-standing, ever-evolving traditions. This module will introduce you to a diverse range of theatre from around the world and from different historical periods. You will explore theatre’s contextual specificity, cultural importance, social and political power, and its value as an object of study. You will learn how to think like an historian and how to practice theatre history by searching for evidence, examining sources, evaluating historical accounts, and conducting your own analysis of the theatrical past.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to:

  • introduce you to a broad range of theatre from around the world and from different periods of history
  • teach you about historiographical methods
  • equip you with key academic skills that you will use throughout your degree

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate understanding of selected examples of theatre history from different cultural contexts
  • 2. Locate different kinds of text and evidentiary sources relating to theatre history
  • 3. Use evidentiary and scholarly sources to answer a historiographical research question

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Develop basic library and IT skills (in independent additional research).
  • 5. Develop confidence in the ability to contribute research to small groups in effective presentations and to evaluate visual evidence (and analyse, critique and manipulate complex material).

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Develop basic personal research skills; (using personal initiative; to set personal objectives) to identify and evaluate at a basic level personal learning strategies.
  • 7. Collaborate in various groups and group sizes, develop confidence in (to learn elements of) aspects of teamwork and presentation.
  • 8. Develop cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback and to develop confidence in (and improve) communication skills and simple analytic abilities in discussions.

Syllabus plan

Each week you will have a lecture and a seminar that focus on one or more theatrical traditions or on a period of theatre history. Examples may include a selection of the following: Yoruban rituals and festivals; Ancient Greek theatre festivals; Noh theatre; kutiyattam; kathakali; medieval commemorative performances; commedia dell’arte; kabuki; Elizabethan & Jacobean theatre; Latin American indigenous dance; Beijing opera; pantomime; variety theatre & music hall; melodrama; naturalism and realism; avant-garde theatre. Note: this list of examples is only indicative of potential module content.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Lectures and seminars
Guided Independent Study267Individual and group work

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1000 words1-4,6Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Continuous Assessment 10Ongoing1, 5, 7, 8Written
Group Presentation4015-20 mins. (depending on group size)1-8Written
Essay 502000 words1- 4, 6Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Continuous assessmentRepeat Study/Mitigation1, 5, 7, 8N/a
Group presentationEssay1-4, 6Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-4, 6Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Balme, Christopher B., ed. Commedia dell’arte in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  • Banham, Martin, ed. A History of Theatre in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Drewal, Margaret Thompson. Yoruba Ritual: Performers, Play, Agency. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.
  • Fischer-Lichte, Erika. History of European Drama and Theatre, New York: Routledge, 2002.
  • Nellhaus, Tobin. Theatre Histories: An Introduction, 3rd edition, London: Routledge, 2016
  • Richmond, Farley P., Darius L. Swann and Phillip B. Zarrilli, eds., Indian Theatre: Traditions of
  • Performance, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.
  • Ruru, Li. The Soul of Beijing Opera: Theatrical Creativity and Continuity in the Changing World, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010.
  • Schneider, Rebecca. Theatre & History (London: Macmillan, 2014).
  • Wiles, David. Greek Theatre Performance: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Zarrilli, Phillip. Introduction to Kathakali Dance-Drama (London: Routledge, 2000).

Key words search

Theatre, performance, history, historiography

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date