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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PECI5217M Popular Performance: from music hall to variety television

30 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr Philip Kiszely

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module explores popular performance on stage and small screen, mapping individual areas (stand-up comedy, drag, dance, sketches, satire, circus acts, etc.) against the broader sweep of long 20th century cultural change. It utilizes a set of theoretical frameworks and historiographical approaches to critique production and consumption in a variety of national and international contexts. Central to the enquiry will be the demise of popular theatre and the emergence of television as a dominant force in entertainment. The module will consider how, during the period of transition and beyond, live ‘musical hall’ re-invented itself as small screen ‘variety’.


On completion of the module, students should be able to critically analyse the development of popular entertainment during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The objectives of the module are to:
• Understand popular entertainment in the theoretical terms of class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality
• Display an understanding of the role of multiple performance/entertainment media in terms of technological development and audience reception
• Consider broad themes of social and cultural change through an historiographical engagement with:
o artist biographies and audience demographics
o performance profiles and surviving performance materials/archival footage
o publicity intertexts and contemporaneous commentaries and reviews
• Understand ethical implications of historical research
• Formulate and articulate research in written and verbal formats

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Display a broadened knowledge of late 19th – early 20th century national and international popular performance activity applied through a defined contextual lens
2. Apply appropriate historical, analytical, critical and comparative methodologies for the articulation and development of specific arguments
3. Utilize appropriate theoretical concepts for use as interpretive tools
4. Define interdisciplinary approaches to performativity, including performance studies and television studies
5. Demonstrate advanced research skills, including the ability to gather, sift, synthesise and organise material, and independently and critically evaluate its significance.


Students will be presented with a range of case studies covering historically-specific aspects of popular performance. These interactive lecture-seminars will also deal with live performance and television broadcast, comparatively and on their own terms.
Case studies might include:
Contexts 1: Socio-cultural – national and global narratives
Place: The Musical hall and audience interaction
Contexts 2: Society and entertainment technologies – development and change
Medium: Television broadcast and Reception
Entertainments: staples – jokes, stories and songs; novelties – skills and repetition
Performers: Diversity and sameness
Audiences: Regional and class identities

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours279.70
Total Contact hours20.30
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Reading and literature search (197.40 hours)
Preparation for tutorial (2 hours)
Preparation of first assessment (30 hours)
Writing and preparation of second assessment (50 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

• 1-1 tutorial
• Week-by-week seminar-based interaction
• Feedback on draft proposal for group presentation
• Feedback on individual essay development

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation3,500- 4,000 words65.00
Group Project15-20 minute Lecture Demonstration / performative presentation (format and content to be negotiated)35.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:43:35


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