• Offered by School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject English
  • Areas of interest Classics and Ancient History, Drama, English, Literature, Film
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Kathryn Kate Flaherty
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

Is comedy just for laughs? Does it have a serious purpose? Is humour time-bound? This course will take the long view of dramatic comedy, exploring ways in which it is catalysed by, and speaks to, its immediate contexts. The entertainment revolution offered by Shakespeare's public playhouse will provide the touchstone for a wide-ranging investigation of forms of dramatic comedy that have been influenced by it. We will explore dramatic comedy's relationship with developing technologies of performance and with socio-political concerns such as state and individual authority,  class, and gender. Topics may include the 21st-century 'mockumentary', black comedy, slapstick, farce, Restoration comedy, Renaissance comedy, Sentimental comedy, romantic comedy and the roots of comedy in ancient Greek culture. In each instance you will learn to identify both common tricks and innovations that have constituted the evolution of this important but often over-looked cultural form.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Identify and explain formal continuities between early and recent examples of dramatic comedy
  2. Explain the conventions and technologies of performance relevant to comedy
  3. Integrate original analysis of two or more comic texts with research on their socio-political contexts
  4. Develop analytical argument that uses and illuminates specific elements of dramatic comedy

Indicative Assessment

Comparative scene analysis (1000 words) (20%) (LO1)

Notes on a scene (500 words) (10%) (LO2, LO3, LO4) and staging exercise (15 minutes/1500 words equiv.) (10%) (LO2, LO4)

Comparative essay (3000 words) (50%) (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4)

Class participation (10%) (LO1, LO2 and LO3)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact: 12 hours of lectures and 24 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities.

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading, writing and film-viewing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a Masters level program and have completed some undergraduate study in Humanities or Arts subjects. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ENGL2117

Preliminary Reading

Eric Weitz, the Cambridge Introduction to Comedy, Cambridge, CUP: 2009.

Eric Weitz, The Cambridge Introduction to Comedy, Cambridge, CUP: 2009.

Penny Gay, The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare's Comedies.

T.G.A. Nelson, Comedy : an introduction to comedy in literature, drama, and cinema, New York : Oxford University Press, 1990.

William Shakespeare, As You Like It.

William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance.

Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times.

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3216
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9928 24 Jul 2017 31 Jul 2017 31 Aug 2017 27 Oct 2017 In Person N/A

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