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123221 SE Literary Seminar / BA Paper / MA British/Irish/New English (2021W)

Restoration Comedy

11.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik
Continuous assessment of course work
Mo 04.10. 14:15-15:45 Digital


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 18 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Due to the ongoing public health situation, this course will be taught online. All scholarly articles will be made available on Moodle. There is no need for you to come into Department, while it may not be safe to do so, to pick up full credits in this course.

Monday 11.10. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 18.10. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 25.10. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 08.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 15.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 22.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 29.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 06.12. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 13.12. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 10.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 17.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 24.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Monday 31.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

The English were the first to behead a king. In 1649, the Civil Wars between Charles I's supporters and Oliver Cromwell's parliamentarians, which had been raging for seven years, culminated in the ruler's deposition by parliament, trial, conviction for treason and execution. This introduced the interregnum of the Commonwealth, with Cromwell as Lord Protector. His government promptly closed all theatres - a thorn in the Puritans' side for many years - for the duration of their time in power. The wife of the beheaded king, French-born catholic Henrietta Maria, who had tried to help the royalist cause from beginning to end by raising funds on the continent, had already gone into exile in 1644. She settled in Paris, where, two years later, the future successor to the English throne, the then 16-year-old Prince Charles, joined her for the next decade-and-a-half. Following Oliver Cromwell's death and the defeat and flight of his son, who had become Lord Protector upon his father's demise, parliament, supported by the army, asked the exiled Prince Charles to ascend the throne. He did so, in 1660, at the age of 30, restoring - as Charles II - the monarchy and embarking on his twenty-five-year-long reign as politically weak but popular sovereign. The so-called Merry Monarch's penchant for everything the Puritans (had) most despised, made for a powerful cultural backlash against the values of the interregnum. Entertainment exploded, public theatres re-opened this time allowing women onto the stage for the first time in British history - and a whole new genre was born: the lewd, witty, frivolous, money-obsessed and cynical as well as satirical Comedy of Manners, most commonly referred to as 'Restoration Comedy', which neither the Great Plague, the pest epidemic of 1665, nor the Great Fire of London, in 1666, could wrestle to the ground.
In this course we are going to delve into the second half of the 17th century, and combine discussing four canonical plays (two by male authors and two by a female one) against the backdrop of genre conventions and sexual politics. We are going to round things off by discussing a late 20th century play Edward Bond's Restoration (1981), which sheds light on aspects of class and race latently present in the original 17th century Comedies of Manner, but denied or suppressed or pushed to the sides.

There will be a text knowledge quiz for each play. You will be able to fill in each quiz at home. Please send each filled-in quiz as a pdf-file attachment via email before the start of the lesson in which we will start discussing the respective play. NB: Any quiz sent in after the relevant class has started will remain unmarked, which means you won't be able to collect points on it.

Specialist model:
Most importantly, this should allow you to delve into a world that is 'chronologically other' from ours - due to its religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics; due to its rigid class system, in which land-ownership and social privilege determine everything; due to its concept of marriage (without the possibility of divorce) as a pure business arrangement rather than a union based on mutual love; and due to the two greatest dangers that beset sexual encounters (syphilis and childbirth) - and thus learn by comparing and contrasting.

As regards methodology: There will be no monological student presentations in this class. Instead, you are expected to act as a specialist for one lesson of the term, either alone or as a member of a team, depending on the number of participants. How exactly this works in terms of timing, what will be expected of you and what a 'prep mail', 'the double-feedback-loop' and a 'golden nugget' is, in all of which you are going to participate, I shall explain in detail in the first lesson. You'll be expected to provide a powerpoint presentation as an accompaniment to your specialist task.

Assessment and permitted materials

Regular attendance (online); regular and appropriate preparation of assigned reading material; specialist task; active participation in following discussion (online); 5 plot-quizzes (sent in as pdf email attachment); final paper including anti-plagiarism statement (sent in as .doc to sylvia.mieszkowski@univie.ac.at and uploaded as .pdf onto Turnitin).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

No more than two lessons may be missed without certified medical reason. If a doctor's note is produced, a third lesson may be missed but is to be compensated for at the teacher's discretion. If more than three lessons are missed, this results in failing the course.

Quiz 1: 2%
Quiz 2: 2%
Quiz 3: 2%
Quiz 4: 2%
Quiz 5: 2%
Active participation in discussion: 10%
Specialist task: 30%
Term paper: 50%

Points must be collected in all of these areas to pass. The benchmark for passing this course is at 60%.

Marks in %:
1 (very good): 90-100%
2 (good): 81-89%
3 (satisfactory): 71-80%
4 (pass): 60-70%
5 (fail): 0-59%

The term papers/BA theses will be marked according to the following categories: form; content; methodology; quality of thesis; language; style.

The written work has to be accompanied by a signed and dated anti-plagiarism statement, sent by email as a .pdf file. The written work itself (6500-8000 words for a term paper; 8500-10000 words for a BA thesis) is to be uploaded through the TurnItIn system as well as sent (as a .doc file) via email to me: sylvia.mieszkowski@univie.ac.at.

Examination topics

There will be no written exam.

Reading list

Books to buy:

The following texts have been ordered for you at Facultas (book shop on Campus). Please drop by to collect them or ask whether they can be delivered to your home address.

- Trevor Griffiths and Simon Trussler (eds.), Restoration Comedy (Drama Classics), Nick Hern Books: London, (2018) [ISBN:978-1854598486],
(This edited collection contains William Wycherley, The Country Wife, Aphra Behn, The Rover, and William Congreve, The Way of the World.)

- Edward Bond, Restoration [ISBN: 978-0-7136-8330-1]

Other critical editions of these plays are acceptable, too, if you are already in possession of a copy of one of the plays (no translations, though!). But if you are buying, please purchase the editions listed above and do so with Facultas. I'm sure you appreciate having a bookshop on Campus, even if you cannot be there yourselves at the moment. Like all stores, it suffered as a result of the covid-pandemic. And if we want it to survive the crisis, we have to support it.

Texts on Moodle:

- Aphra Behn, The Luckey Chance

All secondary reading, that is, critical texts on the plays to be discussed and their cultural/political/historical/social contexts will be made available at the beginning of term as pdf files on Moodle.

Preparatory background reading:

- "Introduction: The Restoration" in: Griffiths/Trussler, Restoration Comedy, Nick Hern Books: London, (2018), p. vii-li.

Association in the course directory

Studium: BA 612, MA 844; MA 844(2)
Code/Modul: BA10.2, MA4, MA7; MA 4.1, 4.2
Lehrinhalt: 12-0449

Last modified: Fr 27.08.2021 09:27