ENG32580 Theatres of War

Academic Year 2021/2022

This course will introduce you to various strategies for staging war from landmark 20th century war plays, with a particular focus on the First World War and the role of gender in war.

Students will develop skills in reading plays in terms of their form and structure, as well as plot and character. Stage directions (denoted in scripts by italics) are just as important as dialogue!

We will be spending two seminars on each of the first three plays – this will give us plenty of time to explore and understand the playwrights’ strategies, and to build a framework for thinking about how war and theatre go together. You will also be writing and giving presentations in this first part of the course, in addition to your regular contributions in class.

There are two basic rules for this course – you have to attend and you have to read the plays. The reading list is relatively short so there is no excuse for not having read the play! I want everybody to have a chance to share their ideas and observations, and to do well in their continuous assessment grade, so come to class prepared to speak (if speaking in public is not possible for you, please contact me separately).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module, students will:
Be familiar with the sense of a play as both a text and a live, collaborative event.
Have a knowledge of landmark plays and theatre companies of the 20th & 21st Centuries.
Be able to participate in discussion (in class and online).
Be able to write critically about a range of playwrights and texts, and be able to engage critically with a range of concepts of writing, staging and representing war.

Indicative Module Content:

This course will examine how theatre - playwrights, directors, actors and audiences - have engaged with representing and staging war in the 20th and 21st centuries.

This is a challenging course that includes work on trauma, war, avant-garde theatre and social change.

Plays will be situated in their original context and related to the development of modern drama. Each week we will read and discuss an individual play or look at the work of important theatre practitioners.

Plays to be studied (tbc) may include:
The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus, in a version by David Greig
Blasted by Sarah Kane
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme by Frank McGuinness
Tea in a China Cup by Christina Reid
Journey’s End by R.C. Sherriff

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module will most likely be delivered online.

Our class discussions will be even more important, keeping us all in contact with each other and the course. During online classes, there will be writing exercises, student presentations, reports and nomination of discussion questions. Students are expected to read the plays in advance and to contribute to discussion.
Continuous assessment is designed as the building blocks for your final essay.
Students are encouraged to ask questions! 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: A 400-word scene analysis Week 3 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: This includes attendance, ongoing class contributions and your presentation. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: The end of term essay will be a comparative essay designed to encourage students to think critically about the module's core themes and how they are manifest in the plays we have studied. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

For all continuous-assessment and end-of-trimester assignments posted on Brightspace (writing exercises, essay plans etc) students will receive feedback in the Brightspace comments function. Students can also use my office hours for follow-up discussion.

Name Role
Justine Zapin Lecturer / Co-Lecturer