ENG32590 Memory and Testimony in Performance

Academic Year 2021/2022

How do you tell the story of a painful past? How do you stand as a witness to those who have been through pain? This module gives students the opportunity to study the different ways that theatre makers take the past and put it on stage, enabling voices to be heard, and audiences to perform as witnesses. The module includes plays about real and fictional stories, in genres from farce to realism to direct address. I hope that by working together we will become better readers and witnesses.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module, students will have:
- written critically about a range of concepts including traumatic memory and witnessing
- engaged creatively with the idea of voice and narrative
- considered the ethical implications of giving testimony about painful pasts
- written an extended critical essay

Indicative Module Content:

This module will ask students to focus in depth on a limited number of primary texts and to consider these texts in light of core critical readings. Both primary and secondary reading are important and students must come to class prepared.

Plays may include (tbc):
No Escape, by Mary Raftery, a documentary play based on the Ryan Report on child abuse in Ireland
Death and the Maiden, by Ariel Dorfman, a fictional play about the Chilean post-dictatorship truth commission
Ubu and the Truth Commission by Jane Taylor, a fictional play about the South African truth commission
Twilight, Los Angeles, by Anna Deavere Smith, a one-woman verbatim play about the riots following the LA police beating of Rodney King
The Walworth Farce, by Enda Walsh, a fictional and farcical play about a family’s response to trauma

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


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
My approach as a teacher is to learn alongside students and to listen to what students ask. This module may be delivered face to face or online, we have to wait and see. But whatever the mode of delivery, students are expected to play an active role in making this module a success.

Ask questions.

Those are our guiding principles.

Oh, and one other thing: Be Kind. 
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
Essay: Your final essay is a comparative essay, which will require you to engage with two plays on the course, using the critical concepts and readings we have studied. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: Bibliographic exercise Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: A 400-word analysis of a short (max 3 page) scene from one of the plays on the course Week 5 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Continuous assessment will include attendance and contribution Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Presentation: One in-class presentation on the critical reading about the play, with the written version submitted to Brightspace Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn 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.