English - Elective Subject, topic 5: Romantic love on the stage and on the page from the Renaissance to the 1930s

Course content

This course springs from the departmental research project ‘Where Love Happens: Topographies of Emotions in European Literature and Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century’, funded by the Velux Foundation. Romantic love––or our preconceived ideas of it––connects drama, poetry, novels, short stories across some 350 years. In Lene Østermark-Johansen’s part of the course, you will be reading romantic comedies, revolving around verbal wit and gender battles on the stage from the early modern period to the early 1930s. Through our reading of Shakespeare, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Much Ado about Nothing,  Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband, and Noel Coward, Private Lives we will study the genre of comedy and the ways in which dialogue and verbal fighting between the sexes provoke our notions of romantic love. The course will have both a practical and a theoretical component. We will work with selected scenes, under the direction of a trained actor, to lift the texts off the page and into three-dimensional space. We will also read literary theory on the drama in order think at a more abstract level about the functions and mechanisms of comedy.


In Maria Damkjær’s half of the course, ‘Victorian Love’, we will focus on the novel as it transforms the idea of romantic love over the course of the nineteenth century. Starting with Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, you will examine love as an engine of personal liberation, but also as a destructive force. The novel genre is about society, the nation, and how the individual fits within those structures; love can be dangerous when it threatens the status quo. With Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, we will see how love can become a weapon or a subverted fairy tale, but we will also explore the hints of queer love in the middle of high Victorian culture. More novels and poems will be added, as well as reading on the theory and history of emotions and sexuality.



William Shakespeare, As You Like It

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

Noel Coward, Private Lives

Romanska & Ackerman (eds), Reader in Comedy: An Anthology of Theory & Criticism

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 325,5
  • English
  • 409,5


Course number
Programme level

1 semester

See link to schedule
Study board of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinators
  • Lene Østermark-Johansen   (7-73697778697671446c7971326f7932686f)
  • Helene Grøn   (6-77717634363c436b7870316e7831676e)
Saved on the 03-01-2022

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