Scheda programma d'esame
Anno accademico2019/20
PeriodoPrimo semestre

Obiettivi di apprendimento
Learning outcomes






Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • advance complex and developed readings of the core texts.
  • think theoretically about questions of representation, reception, style and politics.
  • read play-texts with an appreciation of the choices and possibilities they offer to performers, both in theatrical and cinematic contexts.
  • understand the ways in which a play’s use of theatrical conventions are central to the communication of meaning in performance
  • understand how plays and performances are shaped by, and speak to, their theatrical and historical contexts.
  • demonstrate a critical awareness of the various ways in which theatrical performances are ‘read’ by spectators.
Assessment criteria of knowledge

A range of formative and summative assessment methods are used, including essays, presentations, and a final oral discussion.


As a result of engaging fully with this course, students will be able to:

  • identify and ask the relevant questions of complex texts
  • have a clear grasp of the constituents of drama and theatre
  • have a reasoned appreciation of different views and options and analyse these critically
  • identify and apply relevant data
  • engage critically and constructively with the interpretations of other scholars and students.
  • learn from constructive criticism and incorporate its insights
  • work as part of a team, developing a collaborative approach to problem-solving
  • work to deadlines and priorities
Assessment criteria of skills

The range of assessment methods used (presentation, essay, oral interview) are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing students’ abilities to collect, organize, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments. Feedback on essays and presentations is designed to feed forward into future work, enabling students to develop their strengths and address any weaker areas.


Students will be asked to actively contribute to seminar sessions. They will be asked to support or challenge critical opinions by way of reasoned argument. They will be required to identify and apply data in an accurate, precise and transparent way, to learn from constructive criticism and incorporate its insights, and to develop a sound approach to problem-solving.

Students will also be expected to work to deadlines and priorities and to collaborate with other students in preparation for and during group sessions.

Assessment criteria of behaviors

Students’ ability to formulate critical views and communicate them in a clear, convincing manner will be tested through their contribution to seminar sessions.

The preparation of a written essay will provide further opportunities for students to use their initiative in the collection and presentation of material, to mount a clear, cogent argument, and to draw appropriate conclusions.


Students are expected to have already acquired a good knowledge of English literature and culture. 

Teaching methods

The course is taught both by lecture and seminar. Lectures provide an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping students to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop their own. Seminars provide an opportunity for students to explore the ideas, topics and issues outlined in the lectures.

Seminars may take various formats, including plenary group discussion, small-group work and student-led presentations.

The course is delivered in English.


Course title:

The “state-of-the-nation” play from 1956 to the present day.

Outline description of the course:

The course aims to provide an extensive survey of contemporary British theatre and drama from the postwar years to the present day by focusing on the paradigmatic genre of the “state-of-the-nation” play. Module A (6 CFU) will follow the historical development of the genre by looking at some landmarks of 20th-century British drama and their engagement with the construction of national identity along lines of class, gender and ethnicity. Module B (3 CFU) will pursue the analysis further into the new millennium, tracing the metamorphoses of the “state-of-the-nation play” under the pressure of globalization and a changed geopolitical landscape.


Core texts:

Module A: Defining and redefining the “state-of-the-nation play”

John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1956)

Shelagh Delaney, A Taste of Honey (1958)

Arnold Wesker, The Kitchen (1959)

Howard Brenton, The Churchill Play (1974)

Caryl Churchill, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1976)

Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine (1979)

Caryl Churchill, Top Girls (1982)

Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country’s Good (1988)

Sarah Kane, Blasted (1995)

Martin McDonagh, The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996)


Module B: Post-millennial, post-national?

Caryl Churchill, Far Away (2000)

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Elmina’s Kitchen (2003), in The Methuen drama book of twenty-first century British plays, edited and with an introduction by Aleks Sierz, London : Methuen Drama, 2010

Simon Stephens, Pornography (2008), in The Methuen drama book of twenty-first century British plays, edited and with an introduction by Aleks Sierz, London: Methuen Drama, 2010

Anders Lustgarten, Lampedusa (2015)

Sea Sorrow, dir. Vanessa Redgrave (GB, 2017, 74’)


Critical references

Aleks Sierz, Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today, London, Methuen, 2011 [selected chapters].

Nadine Holdsworth, Theatre & Nation, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 [selected chapters].

Dan Rebellato, 1956 and All That: The Making of Modern British Drama, London, Routledge, 1999 [selected chapters].

A further selection of critical material (essays, book chapters, reviews) will be made available through the Moodle course page.


NB students will be asked to read the core texts in preparation for seminar sessions.

All texts listed in the course bibliography are available from the LM2 library.


Non-attending students info

In addition to the course bibliography listed above and the critical material indicated on the Moodle course page, students who are unable to attend classes are required to read David Krasner, A History of Modern Drama, vol II (1960-2000), Chichester, Wiley Blackwell, 2016 [pp. 47-204; 459-499]; free online access to ebook version for Unipi users.

Non-attending students will sit an oral exam. They will also be asked to prepare a critical essay on an agreed topic. The essay must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the date of the oral exam.

Assessment methods

Students will be assessed by a formative oral presentation (20%), an argumentative essay (40%), and a final oral discussion (40%). Attendance and contribution to group discussion will also count towards the final mark.


Module A will start on Tuesday, 1 October (Palazzo Scala, Media Lab, 2nd floor).

Please sign up on the Moodle course page and read the instructions for preliminary reading in preparation for the first weel of class. 

Per gli studenti del CdS LETFIL, Storia del Teatro Inglese rientra nella rosa degli insegnamenti di letteratura straniera curricolare sia per il percorso monolingue che per quello bilingue; può essere biennalizzato dagli studenti del percorso monolingue. L’insegnamento è inoltre offerto nell’ambito dei crediti a scelta libera agli studenti delle altre Lauree Magistrali.


Module A will start on Tuesday, 1 October (Palazzo Scala, Media Lab, 2nd floor).

Please sign up on the Moodle course page and read the instructions for preliminary reading in preparation for the first week of class.

Ultimo aggiornamento 27/09/2019 16:51