Restoration and 18th Century Drama:  Innovations in Genre


Objectives:  The restoration of the English Monarchy in 1660 was followed almost immediately by the restoration of the live theatre, which had been banned during the Interregnum (1648-1660).  Once the theatres were re-opened, they became part of the political, social, and cultural pulse of the times.  And while it would be a mistake to think that these few plays represent an accurate portrayal of Restoration and eighteenth-century life in general, the plays do reflect shifting concerns about important cultural issues.  In hilarity and deadly earnest, on-stage and off, rakes, wits, heroines and molls debated the often dubious distinctions between constancy and boredom, identity and autonomy, obedience and obeisance, love and lust.  We will be paying close attention to these themes as we examine the dominant shifts in British drama from 1660 to 1780.


Required Texts:

*  Behn, Aphra.  The Rover

*  Nettleton, Case, and Stone, Eds.  Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan.  (DDS on syllabus)

*  Rogers, Katharine M., Ed.  The Meridian Anthology of Restoration and 18th-Century Plays by Women (MA on syllabus)

*  Wycherley, William.  The Country Wife.

*  Occasional handouts


Technological Resources:

This course has a web page that offers links to on-line resources and provides a bulletin board for posting questions, answers, comments, rough drafts, reviews, etc.  I will visit the web page regularly and will keep it up-to-date.  I encourage you to make good use of this resource and to share your ideas with me on how the web page can be more useful.



*  to read each assignment carefully and imaginatively several times.  Read aloud to yourself, your roommate, and your dog.  Be an engaged reader:  dog-ear pages, underline in purple, scribble in the margins, bracket important speeches and scenes.  Look up strange vocabulary.  Mark up your text!

*  regular attendance and participation in lively but polite discussion.

*  choosing a day for which you will serve as a class discussion leader.  We will probably have at least two discussion leaders for each class session, and I encourage you to work together.  Your duties include posting discussion topics and probing questions to the class web page at least 48 hours before your chosen day and then serving as discussion starters during class itself.

*  midterm and final exams, composed of both objective and short-to-mid-length essays.

*  a performance project, for which you will form a group with some classmates and present a scene of your choosing for the class.  You will perform your scene twice, in two different ways, by changing some of your performance decisions.  (More on this in class.)

*  one short write-up of your performance project (2-3 pages) and two mid-length papers (5-6 pages).

*  quizzes at my discretion, if you leave me room to doubt your devotion to the cause.


Late and Missed Assignments:

All work is due either at the beginning of class or by the time indicated on the syllabus.  English Department policy states that a late paper will be penalized a letter grade step a day (A to A- to B+, etc.).  Any paper a week or more late without my permission will not be accepted and will receive a 0 (zero).  Talk to me first!



Any use of another’s words or ideas must be acknowledged by the appropriate use of quotation or parenthetical reference.  For guidelines, see the “English Department Style Sheet” p. 5 or the MLA Handbook sec.1.8.  The University requires that all instances of plagiarism be reported to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action.  Plagiarism can result in course failure and/or University expulsion.  Be advised:  I know how to use the web as well as you do.  If you buy a paper online, I can and will find it.



Papers:  50%   

Midterm and Final:  40%       

Class participation and performance project:  10%




Week 1




Dramatic Theory:  selections from Dryden’s literary criticism (handout)

Week Two:  Heroic Drama


Dryden, The Conquest of Grenada (1671)  (DDS)


Introduction to The Duke of Buckinham's Rehearsal (reading the play itself is optional)


Dryden, The Conquest of Grenada

Week Three:  Restoration Tragedy


Dryden, All for Love (1677)  (DDS)


recommend you read/review Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1607)


Dryden, All for Love

Week Four


Otway, Venice Preserv’d (1682)  (DDS)


Otway, Venice Preserv’d

Week Five:  Restoration Comedy


Wycherley, The Country Wife (1675) 


Wycherley, The Country Wife

Week Six


Etherege, The Man of Mode (1676)  (DDS)


Etherege, The Man of Mode

Week Seven


Behn, The Rover (1677)


Behn, The Rover


view video tape of The Rover

Week Eight:  Transitional Comedy


midterm exam


Congreve, The Way of the World (1700)  (DDS)


Collier, “Short View of the Immortality...”  (1698)  (DDS)

Week Nine


Congreve, The Way of the World


Congreve, The Way of the World

Week Ten


Centlivre, A Bold Stroke for a Wife (1718)  (MA)


Centlivre, A Bold Stroke for a Wife

Week Eleven:  Eighteenth-Century Tragedy


Lillo, London Merchant (1731)  (DDS)


Lillo, London Merchant

Week Twelve:  Sentimental Comedy


Steele, Conscious Lovers (1722)  (DDS)


Cumberland, West Indian (1771)  (DDS)

Week Thirteen:  Laughing Comedy


Goldsmith, “Essay on the Theatre” (1772)  (DDS)


Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer (1773)  (DDS)


Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer

Week Fourteen


Warren, The Group (1775)  (MA)


Warren, The Group

Week Fifteen


Sheridan, School for Scandal (1777)  (DDS)


Sheridan, School for Scandal




Final exam at time and location determined by the university exam schedule.




[Sample Syllabi]

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