Course Objectives

  • Develop an intellectual foundation in the dramatic literature and history of the discipline.
  • Communicate effectively and professionally (verbally, visually, and/or in writing) in area of specialization.
  • Describe some theatrical practices and traditions in cultures across the globe from ancient times to 1642.
  • Explain, in writing and verbally, how a familiarity with theater’s history illuminates and/or enhances one’s creative practice and spectatorship.
  • Articulate how theater has contributed to culture and society at different times and in diverse regions.
  • Write clear analytical responses to play texts and live performances.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Western canon and develop and understanding of theatre histories around the world beyond the canon.

Course Readings and Materials:

This is a Zero Textbook Cost course. There is no mandatory textbook and the readings will be provided through Blackboard or other Open Educational Resources.

You are expected to see at least two performances during the semester: one production from the department and one production of a pre-1642 play or tradition.

Class Structure, Assignments, and Grades:

Like theatre, this class relies heavily in full presence and collaboration. This means you will be graded on your active participation and your ability to collaborate with your colleagues.

Online responses to readings20
Class participation and team work15
Theatre review15
Mid-term presentation of personal project10
Final paper and presentation40

Online responses: Each week, you will have to write a 1-2 paragraph response on Blackboard to the topic or the reading assigned for that week. You will also have to comment on two of your classmates’ responses. Each response is worth 2 points of your final grade. You can skip one with no penalty. Responses due: Sunday at midnight. Comments due: Monday at noon. (So that I get a chance to read them before our meeting) In lieu of a written response, you can choose to do a visual response, preparing visual materials to share with the class, but you should do at least 5 written responses during the semester.

Class participation: You are expected to participate actively each week in class.  I want to stress the importance of continuous in-class engagement as well as private study for developing your critical approach to play reading. This component of the grade will take into account punctuality, attention to colleagues and instructor, evidence of preparation, and, above all, frequency and thoughtfulness of discussion contribution. 

Theatre review: We will see at least two performances. You will write an analysis of one of them, examining the different elements (stage and costume design, text, acting, directing, relevance of the show to the moment of performance, engagement of audience, etc.) with a special focus on the historical revision/version of a pre-1642 play or performance practice. Each paper should be 500 to 1000 words long (2 to 4 double-spaced pages).

Mid-term presentation: You will give a short presentation (2-5 minutes) of your final project, explaining what brought you to the topic, what your argument is, or what specific artistic project you will build/propose. You will also present a 500 word (2 page) paper.

Final project: The final project can be an academic paper or a proposal for an artistic project which recovers a pre-1642 play or performance practice, analyzing the historical/political/cultural implications of such contemporary staging. The academic paper should be a 6-8 page paper with a clear argument, structure, and format. The performance proposal should include all details of the production, a description, a handbill, and visuals. I will accept other ideas for a final project, such as stage design, etc. You will also present your final project to the class at the end of the semester.