• Offered by School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject English
  • Areas of interest Drama, English, Gender Studies, History, Literature

The reign of Elizabeth I fostered a new social technology – the public theatre – and with it an explosion of playwriting that has influenced how we think about power and public identity to this day. But how did having a woman in charge influence this evolving artform? The Queen staged her authority in elaborate rituals, called herself a ‘prince’, and declined to marry. Unsurprisingly, tragedies and histories of the era dramatise crises of royal succession and related political instability through complex explorations of tyranny and treachery that disturb binary definitions of gender. Comedies often resolve these crises through marriage but are likewise populated by articulate female characters and driven by gender disguise. All of this cultural work took place in a new and radically public space and was governed by an aesthetics of  self-reflexivity. What can we learn from these plays and this epoch about the relationship between gender, sex, performance, and political power? In this course you will learn to read early modern plays informed by an understanding of their theatrical and socio-political origins and to reflect on their legacies in modern entertainment and public life. Playwrights to be studied include Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, and Elizabeth Cary.

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. Read closely and understand a range of early modern plays.
  2. Identify themes and formal characteristics of early modern drama.
  3. Analyse a play-text in the light of its socio-political context.
  4. Direct a scene from an early-modern play-text with reference to original staging conditions.
  5. Reflect on practice-based research findings in the light of published scholarship on a gender-related topic in early modern drama.

Indicative Assessment

Scene analysis, 1000 words (20%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2]
Presentation, 20 minutes (20%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4]
Research journal, 3000 words (50%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 3, 5]
Class participation (10%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 4]

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 36 hours of workshops
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 Units of English (ENGL) courses, or have permission of Course Convener. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ENGL2012 or ENGL6034.




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
2019 $3000
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $4560
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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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
6769 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person View

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