About this volume
This special issue of Romantic Circles Pedagogies extends a conversation about teaching Romantic drama that has been a part of the larger reevaluation of Romantic-era drama and theatre over the past fifteen years or so. While there have been many scholarly publications, conference panels, and digital and print dramatic publication initiatives to advance work in British theatre and drama studies of the Romantic era, most of the conversation about teaching Romantic drama has been a matter of occasional collegial sharing and listserv posting. It seemed a good time to develop a special issue that would illustrate the many different ways of framing curriculum, working out instructional ideas, and engaging students with British Romantic theatre and drama in ways suited to different programmatic and curricular contexts.
As I have read work on teaching Romantic theatre in recent years, I have noticed that three main pedagogical innovations stand out: reframing curriculum in ways that invite students to rethink the contexts through which we interpret Romantic theatre and drama, posing theatre-based problems to engage students with both textual interpretation and historical and aesthetic information, and using concrete interpretive problems related to Romantic theatre and drama to raise fundamental questions for broader literature study. Each of these innovations in teaching is reflected in the contributions in this special issue, sometimes with two or all three innovations braided around each other in nuanced ways.
Our contributors have written pieces about their experiences in teaching plays and theatre of this period. Together, these personal/professional reflections provide details of a wide variety of courses at a variety of different levels. Contributors show how they situate plays and theatre of the era through theoretical, historical, or thematic frames, and they also show in some cases how they employ distinctive classroom processes to engage students in the kinds of inquiry that are informed by the interpretive processes that theatre artists and cultural historians bring to the work of discovering and reanimating a period’s neglected forms and subject matter. Many of the contributors draw readers’ attention to the kinds of resources that exist for teaching drama and theatre of this period, including existing scholarship, texts of plays, and production work. Several provide their own syllabi and assignments as examples for those considering designing their own.
There are many ways to teach British drama and theatre of the Romantic era, and our hope is that reading about how others have designed assignments, planned syllabi, and unfolded learning experiences for students will give ideas that may help readers find ways to teach these plays and this history in their own curricular and institutional contexts.
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