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Studies in 
ENG 428


Spring 2002

ENG 428 Netforum  (please post by Wednesday 10 pm)

Professor: William McBride
STV 101 R 5:30-8:20p
Office: STV 336
Hours: T 5-7p

I reserve the right to amend this syllabus.


Required Plays/Texts

Worthen, W.BThe Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama. Third Edition.

Beckett.  Not I [1972] Pas Moi; subjectivity in language, grammatical agon
    Not I text 

Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Jajouka 

Sophocles.  Oedipus Rex* [431 BC ?] ; intro drama, theater, and culture/classical athens

Marlowe.  Doctor Faustus*[1589],  medieval & renaissance england, exchangist logic

Shakespeare.  Hamlet* [1601], the slacker

Behn. The Rover* [1677], early modern europe, lower bodily stratum

Wagner.  Tristan und Isolde, love and death. The complete artwork, masochism, erotism

Ibsen. A Doll House* [1879], modern europe, naturalism, feminism

Albee.  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf [1962]  the couple, self-loathing  

Tagore. Chitra [1914] myth (click here for the on-line/project gutenberg version)

Miller.  Death of a Salesman[1949] dysfunction, critique of work

Baraka/JonesDutchman *[1964]; radical black consciousness

Shepard. True West [1980]  acting, identity, myth             

Kushner. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes : Millennium Approaches*  doubling, gender interrogation

Bogosian.  Sex, Drugs, & Rock n Roll, performance, one-person show 

Gambaro. Information for Foreigners* [1991] postcoloniality 

Ball, Alan.  American Beauty.  NewMarket Press, 1999. death of a salesman, drama & cinema 



*These plays are collected in the Harbrace anthology.

Some Secondary Criticism:

Brecht, Sidney, Bakhtin, Boose, Stallybrass,  Dryden, Frye, Gay, Maus, Zola, Barthes, Artaud, Esslin, Jameson, Miller, Steiner, Williams, Gates, Diamond, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Case, Deleuze/Guattari


Description of Course 

     Does art provide instances of and stimuli for liberation or containment? We'll test the assumption that the theatrical spectacle has the potential to critique the larger spectacle of patriarchy, sexism/heterosexism, orthodox religion, racism, capitalism, militarism, and other politically correct concerns by reading the structure and effects, obsessions and pleasures, successes and failures of selected plays and critical theory. We will also examine both the performative manifestations of gender and the theatrical nature of  propaganda-by-the-deed as expressed via street theater, demonstrations, and certain acts of terror. To these ends both "traditional" and "contestatory" texts are represented--categories we'll put into question as well. Consider ENG 428 as an immersion in the nature of drama in many of its forms ranging from classical Greek and Elizabethan tragedy, Restoration Comedy, Grand Opera, Realist/Naturalist, Avant-Garde, Modernist-Absurdist, Indian-Mythic, African-American, Feminist, Latin-American, Postmodern, Queer, and contemporary performance art to the history of film. We will begin with the religious and sacrificial origins of the theater using Aristotle and Kenneth Burke, stress the importance of what Beckett calls the "human meat," i.e., the physical body being there on stage as theater's sine qua non and move to critiques of Aristotle by Brecht, Miller, Case and others. We will attend two performances as a class, one "across campus" and the other in Chicago (round trip bus provided by the Dean of Arts & Sciences). Screenings of selected other plays will be scheduled/negotiated in class.

Format of Course

     Seminar/discussion. Students will 1) post  500 word minimum weekly responses to readings/lectures/discussion via NetForum; 2) write an 8-10 page interpretive essay on one of the plays read in the first 7 weeks of the semester; 3) compose a mid-term examination comprised of short answer and essay; 4) direct and/or perform a brief "open scene;"  5) give a (twenty-minute maximum) presentation on either a play or critical text either in class or, schedule permitting, to my 285 class to be assigned the first week; and 6) write a 18-25 page publishable paper on drama and performance.


Mandatory.  Three absences excused.  Final grade will be reduced 1/2 a letter grade for each additional absence.  



1st Day Info (How to NetForum)