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ENG 285/Spring 2012

Professor Bill McBride
E-mail me  


Classroom/Time STV 308 11a-12:15p
Office/Hours STV 336/ 12:45-1:45 p T/R (and by appointment)

Classroom Ethics
Please read the Academic Integrity statement at the bottom of this page. All students must familiarize themselves with these policies at the beginning of the semester.
All electronic devices powered off during class time and screenings.
No texting during classtime nor screenings.
No talking during film screenings.

Laptop users must sit in the last row(s).

WARNING: The content of the books and films in this class
are intended for Mature audiences only.
If issues of race, sex, violence, class, drugs, profanity or politics cause
you discomfort or upset, please consider enrolling in a different class.

I reserve the right to amend this syllabus. Continue to consult this site and "Announcements" in Blackboard throughout the semester.

Students may not choose those assignments (regardless of point value) they wish to complete. All Weekly Posts, daily in-class preparations, papers, etc. must be completed.

Log into iCampus, click on Blackboard's ENG 285 Spring 2012 session to find announcements, assignments, films, submit postings/papers, etc.


It is the daily responsibility of each student to
1) have closely read in advance the play scheduled,
2) prepare an analysis of a selected passage,
3) present analysis when called upon.

Weekly posts must be made by Friday by 11:59 am to insure proper credit


Course Description
Does art provide instances of 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 politicized concerns by reading the structure and effects, obsessions and pleasures, successes and failures of selected plays and critical theory.  To that end both "traditional" and "contestatory" texts are represented--categories we'll put into question as well. Consider ENG 285 as an intensive introduction to and immersion in the nature of drama in many of its forms ranging from classical Greek and Elizabethan tragedy, Realist/Naturalist, Modernist,  African-American, Feminist, Postmodern, Queer, and contemporary performance art.  We will begin with the religious and sacrificial origins of the theater using Aristotle and Kenneth Burke and move to critiques of Aristotle by Brecht, Miller, Case and others.  Our attention to performance will include analyzing filmed versions of certain plays and the stylized use of camera, lighting, spatial relationships, sound and editing in order to confer these directorial choices into meaning.  Comparing stage and screen versions will better advance our inquiry into drama's ontological status.
Mandatory.  Three absences excused
  Final grade will be reduced 1/2 a letter grade for each additional absence.  
Grading Formula
26 points Weekly posts/writing assignment 500 word minimum--quoted material will not count
14 points Class Participation
25 points First Essay/1500 word minimum
35 points Final research paper/2500 word minimum

Grading Scale:
A = 92-100
B = 82-91
C = 72-81
D = 62-71
F = 61 or below

Course Format
Seminar/discussion. Students will: 
1) post by Friday 11:59pm 500 word mimimum responses to readings/lectures/discussion via BlackBoard; 
2) write an 1500 word minimum interpretive essay on one of the plays scheduled for the early part of the semester due 2/23 5 pm; 
Thesis Statements due 4/12 5pm in Blackboad;
4) write a final 2500 word minimum paper on drama and performance due 4/26 @ 5pm

All work to be submitted in Blackboard-Do not attached files.

ENG 285 Research Paper on Drama and Performance Guidelines/35 points

The ultimate goal of this final paper is identical to the goal of the first paper: Interpret what the play means by examining closely a few select moments, scenes, lines and connecting that significance to the play's larger meaning.  This final paper, however, is much more of a dialogue with at least two other "voices."  You are being asked to incorporate the insights of:

1)    RESEARCH a scholar or scholars who have written on your play.  It is best to have developed your own reading of the play before researching what others have said to insure that the paper isn't "hijacked" by the scholar whose ideas end up dominating your essay, turning it into more of a book report on outside ideas rather than your own original critical essay.  Employ these outside insights however you wish; as support or refutation of your interpretation or some sort of combination of the two.  A minimum of one quote from an outside scholarly source is required.

2)    PERFORMANCE-Incorporate insight derived from a performance or performances of your play.  As we have been discussing throughout the semester, each mounting of a play, each move from page to stage requires a vision of that play, requires many, many choices which derive from the interpretation of the Director, Actor, Scene Designer, et al.  Each new staged version of a play is like a critical essay with its distinguishable interpretation. 

The following is taken from the Course Description on the website:

 "Our attention to performance will include analyzing filmed versions of certain plays and the stylized use of camera, lighting, spatial relationships, sound and editing in order to confer these directorial choices into meaning.  Comparing stage and screen versions will better advance our inquiry into drama's ontological status."

If you have spotted such a stylized choice and need help identifying and describing it, bring it to me cued up and we'll look at it together. 

Often a fruitful place to look is where the staged or filmed version adds or subtracts something from the original script, like Malkovich's Biff kissing Willy.  A minimum of one element from a performance is required.

So this paper will contain a minimum of three critical voices: yours, an outside scholar's, and the performance's.

If you choose to write on a play outside of the syllabus I must approve it. 

other Links

Merriam-Webster Dictionary/Thesaurus

the Gutenberg Project


Origins of drama, how to "read" a play
: Not I [1972] Pas Moi; subjectivity in language, drama's ontological status

The following is from Kenneth Burke 's Rhetoric of Religion, pp. 4-5

Here are the steps

In the Iron Law of History

That welds Order and Sacrifice:

Order leads to Guilt

(for who can keep the commandments!)

Guilt needs Redemption

(for who would not be cleansed!)

Redemption needs Redeemer

(which is to say, a Victim!).


Through Guilt

To Victimage

(hence: Cult of the Kill) . . .

    Not I text 
. Oedipus Rex [431 BC ?]

 Aristotle's Poetics
theater and culture of classical Athens
Oedipus online-click here

BBC production excerpt Oedipus the King (Taylor, 1984)

excerpt Breuer/Telson Gospel at Colonus [1985]


Marlowe.  Doctor Faustus [1589],  medieval & renaissance england, exchangist logic; excerpts from Murnau's 1926 film 
Dr. Faustus online


Ghirlandaio's Jerome in His Study


Shakespeare.  Hamlet [1601],
the slacker; parental anxiety, misanthropy; excerpts from several film versions
Hamlet on-line

Ibsen. A Doll House [1879],
modern Europe & the bourgeoisie, the contract,
"white" lies, realism, naturalism, feminism,
excerpts from Losey's 1973 film 
Doll House online


Strindberg. Miss Julie: A Naturalistic Tragedy  [1889]
sex & class cathected, seduction, naturalism
excerpts from Mike Figgs' 1999 film



First Paper due 5pm 2/23
Shaw: Pygmalion [1912] agency & class, voice & gender, pedagogy

Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme

My Fair Lady (1964)


Brecht: Mother Courage and Her Children [1939]  
militarism, the alienation effect, didactic art, the dialectic


Williams.   A Streetcar Named Desire [1947]
excerpts from Kazan's 1951 film




Miller. Death of a Salesman [1949] dysfunction, the slacker, Schlondorff's camera

[text @ bookstores] 


Beckett. Waiting For Godot [1952] En Attendant Godot
excerpts from Beckett's production





O'Neill. Long Day's Journey Into Night [1955 posthumous] almighty dollar, woman as scapegoat & spectacle

dysfunction, American Dream, Christianity, slacker; excerpts from Lumet's AFT 1962 film

 [text @ bookstores]


Albee.  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf [1962]  the couple, self-loathing, Nichols' camera [text @ bookstores]


Baraka/JonesDutchman [1964]; radical black consciousness, modern myth;
view Harvey's 1966 film
Baraka's essay on "Revolutionary Theatre" 
Both play and essay are scanned in the public domain file.


Final essays due
4/23 @ Noon

Mart Crowley. Boys in the Band [1968]
excerpts from William Friedkin's 1970 film

. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Millennium Approaches [1991]
Available in the Public Folder
doubling, gender interrogation, queer theory, Brechtian performance, hiv
Angels in America (Nichols 2003) HBO Mini-Series

Some Secondary Criticism:
Brecht, Fanon, Bakhtin,  Artaud, Miller, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Case, Baraka, Bataille, Burke
I reserve the right to amend this syllabus


Cheating and/or plagiarism will not be tolerated. You may be prosecuted to the full extent of University administrative procedures if you are caught engaging in these activities. You cannot turn in someone else's work, the same paper for two classes, nor a previously composed paper of your own. You must acknowledge all sources in your papers. Any time you use direct quotations or paraphrases, or borrow ideas or structures, including from lecture, you must cite your source. Failure to do so will result in an F for the entire course. I will pursue any evidence of plagiarism and report academic dishonesty to the dean of the college of the student in question. Charges of plagiarism become part of the student's permanent file and can be grounds for dismissal from the university.

Because you may be working in groups or dealing with ideas from Lectures in your paper, you must be extremely careful to develop your own unique and insightful ideas and to give credit to every idea that is not your own.  If you are caught plagiarizing, even if it is unintentional, you will receive an "F" for the course.  If you repeat any ideas brought up in Lecture, use them only to advance your own points, and then write the word "Lecture" in parentheses.  If you are writing a paper with another person or persons, make sure your paper makes its own unique points, and that you write in parentheses at the end of the shared sentence the last name of the person in your cohort whose idea or words you used.  It is up to each member of a study group to agree upon consistently assigning credit for ideas, words, etc. in order to avoid charges of collusion. Always discuss sources you use in your paper, put quotation marks around any words that are not your own, and provide page numbers or a full web address and a works cited page.  Consult MLA documentation rules and the Community Rights & Responsibilities Website if you are uncertain.


Academic Integrity Policy Violations:

1-Taking any action with intent to deceive the person in charge as to the student's acting without honesty to complete an assignment, such as falsifying data or sources, providing false information, etc. Students are prohibited from conversation or other communication in examinations except as authorized by the instructor.

2. Plagiarism. For the purpose of this policy, plagiarism is the unacknowledged appropriation of another's work, words, or ideas in any themes, outlines, papers, reports, speeches, or other academic work. Students must ascertain from the instructor in each course the appropriate means of documentation.

3. Submitting the same paper for more than one University course without the prior approval of the instructors.

4. Willfully giving or receiving unauthorized or unacknowledged assistance on any assignment. This may include the reproduction and/or dissemination of test materials. Both parties to such collusion are considered responsible.

5. Involvement in the advertisement, solicitation, or sale of term papers or research papers.

The following material is from Illinois State Uninversity's UNDERGRADUATE CATALOG

p. 65 Academic Policies and Practices


Students are expected to be honest in all academic work. A student's name on any academic exercise (theme, report, notebook, paper, examination) shall be regarded as assurance that the work is the result of the student's own thought and study. Offenses involving academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to the following:

a. Cheating on quizzes or examinations occurs when any student is found using or attempting to use any book, paper, or other article, or assistance from any individual intending to deceive the person in charge of the quiz or examination with reference to his or her work. No books, notes, papers or related articles shall be used at any quiz or examination unless specifically authorized by the person in charge. Conversation or other communication between individuals in examinations and quizzes is forbidden except as authorized by the instructor.

b. Computer dishonesty is the unacknowledged or unauthorized appropriation of another's program, or the results of that program, in whole or in part, for a computer-related exercise or assignment.

c. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged appropriation of another's work, words, or ideas in any themes, outlines, papers, reports, or computer programs. Students must ascertain from the instructor in each course the appropriate means of documentation. Submitting the same paper for more than one course is considered a breach of academic integrity unless prior approval is given by the instructors.

d. Grade falsification is any attempt to falsify an assigned grade in an examination, quiz, report, program, grade book, or any other record or document.

e. Collusion occurs when students willfully give or receive unauthorized or unacknowledged assistance on any assignment. This may include the reproduction and/or dissemination of test materials. Both parties to the collusion are considered responsible. No individual may substitute for another in any quiz or examination.

For more information consult the Community Rights and Responsibilities (formerly Student Dispute Resolution) Web site at: