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Ibsen: A Doll's House

  • About this Course
  • About this Lecturer

About this Course

In this course, Dr Sophie Duncan (University of Oxford) explores Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, which premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in December 1879. The course begins by introducing Ibsen's life and times, his inspiration for the plot of the play, and the story of how the play transitioned from the Scandinavian to the British stage. After that, we think about A Doll's House as a work of Victorian drama, focusing in particular on the continuities and discontinuities with other plays of the period. In the third module, we explore the theme of marriage in the play, including the political and journalistic debates surrounding marriage in the 1880s and 90s, before moving on in the fourth module to consider the play's treatment of masculinity. In the fifth module, we think about the influence of Darwin's Origin of Species on the play, focusing in particular on the themes of criminality and inheritance, before moving on in the sixth and final module to consider the theatrical, critical and philosophical readings of the play's stunning and sensational ending.

About the Lecturer

Sophie Duncan is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Calleva Centre, Magdalen College, University of Oxford, working on the project "Adults at Play(s)", which looks at Shakespearean and Greek tragedy.

She completed her DPhil "Shakespeare's Women and the Fin de Siecle" in August 2013, after two years and ten months of study. Her first job was as Stipendiary Lecturer in English at St Catherine's College, University of Oxford, and she has taught widely across the university and was also a College Lecturer at Keble.

Her doctoral research focused on a group of actresses which includes Ellen Terry, Mrs Patrick Campbell, Lillie Langtry and Madge Kendal, although anyone board-treading and female is of interest to her. Using Shakespeare to illuminate 1890s culture has led her in all kinds of surprising directions: from Ruskin to pornography, and from Dracula to the suffragettes! She love archives, public engagement and working with theatre companies. She spends a lot of time forcing sordid Victorian facts on unsuspecting family members.