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Studies in Drama
ENG 285

ENG 285 Netforum  (please post by Sunday 11:59pm)

 Professor: William McBride
STV 347b T/R 9:35-10:50
Office: STV 336
Hours: T/R 1-2p

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 [on-line text]
.  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,
Wagner.  Tristan und Isolde, love and death. The complete artwork [hand-out]
Ibsen. A Doll House* [1879], modern europe, naturalism, feminism
Albee.  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf[1962]  the couple, self-loathing  
.  Death of a Salesman[1949] dysfunction
Baraka/Jones. Dutchman [1964]; radical black consciousness

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 
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

 Description of Course

     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 politically correct concerns, etc. 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,  Restoration Comedy, Grand Opera, Realist/Naturalist, Avant-Garde, Modernist-Absurdist,  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.  We will attend two performances as a class, one “across campus, and one via a field trip to Chicago.” Screenings of selected other plays will be scheduled/negotiated in class.

Format of Course

     Seminar/discussion. Students will 1) post 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; and 4)write a 8-12 page paper on drama and performance.


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