Course Description/Content:

The Renaissance and Restoration periods in England were noted for dramas that were variegated and excellent. This course examines individually and comparatively some of the major dramatists of the time and their work excluding William Shakespeare who will be studied as a figure in year four.   The course encourages students to evaluate these dramas in the light of socio-historical and cultural contexts of the two periods. While some of the themes and plots are similar and playwrights unapologetically “borrow” from each other on occasion, in depth analyses reveal that each individual offers something unique to the theatre.  In Elizabeth comedy, the celebratory and patriotic strain in some plays is mocked at in others while the period also includes examples of dark comedy.  In tragedy, “the great property-room of Elizabethan tragic devices,” The Spanish Tragedy, establishes the revenge theme, the play within a play, the theme of madness and further concerns which are replicated in others, whereas a play like The Malcontent though set up like a “regular” tragedy of blood does not include a single fatality.  Playwrights did not revert to the Elizabethan/Jacobean tradition after the Restoration but were greatly influenced by French and Italian models.  The popular theatrical mode of the age was the comedy of manners which provided writers the facility to strengthen or challenge contemporary conceptions of sexuality, courtship, marriage, property deals and much more.  Consequently, this section of the course will foreground the social tensions animating life after the restoration as evidenced in the drama.

In a given semester, the Instructor teaching the course could choose a reasonable mix of texts and topics from the following list and other relevant primary texts and topics not included below:


Thomas Kyd: The Spanish Tragedy

Thomas Dekker: The Shoemaker’s Holiday

Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher: The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Cyril Tourner: The Revenger’s Tragedy

Thomas Middleton and William Rowley: The Changeling

Philip Massinger: A New Way to Pay Old Debts

John Marston: The Malcontent

John Webster: The Duchess of Malfi

John Ford: ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

William Congreve: The Way of the World

William Wycherley: The Country Wife

George Etherege The Man of Mode

UNIVERSITY OF PERADENIYA, FACULTY OF ARTS                                               FORM C-1                                                                                                                                           

Course Code

ENG 2008

Course Title

Trajectories of Western Metaphysical Thought and Literary Practice






I, 2020/ 2021

Day of the Week

Monday 12-1 (MA 38A)

Tuesday 1-3 (MA 38A)

*Lectures will be done on Zoom until the university reopens.





Status (Compulsory/Optional)

Compulsory for students specializing in English



Maximum Number of Students Allowed


Primary Instructor’s Name

Ms. Nishani Jayaweera

Method of Evaluation

40% Continuous Assessment; 60% Final Examination

COURSE OBJECTIVES:  Laying the critical and theoretical foundation of English Studies and enabling the student to understand the foundational and critical aspects of English Studies from Classical times to the end of the 19th century through the study of a selection of political, philosophical, social and literary texts.



Lecture Topic


Introduction: Selections from Plato’s Republic (Book 8 and Book 10)


Introduction: Selections from Plato’s Republic (Book 8 and Book 10)


A Perusal of Poetics by Aristotle and the Concept of Tragedy 


A Perusal of Poetics by Aristotle and the Concept of Tragedy


Discussion of Oedipus Rex and its Political and Theoretical Resonances; Introduction to Early Modernity


Selections from The Prince by Machiavelli


Utopia by Thomas More, Quiz 1 (15%)


Discussion on the Enlightenment- “What is Enlightenment” by Immanuel Kant


Alexander Pope – An Essay on Man


Selections from The Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft;


W. E. B. Dubois’s Souls of Black Folks

Long Paper Proposal due (10%)


Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray


Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray




Wrap up.

Long Paper due (15%)




David Held. Political Theory and the Modern State. London: Polity Press, 1989.


Forest E. Baird. 6th edition. From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle Valley, NJ: Pearson Education, 2010.


Paul Gilory. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.



NOTE:  This C1 form might go through certain modifications given the volatile condition of our existence,  but I will keep you updated on it.