DRLIT-UA 111.001 History of Drama & Theatre II | R 11am-1:45pm | Crawford, Honey
This course examines global movements in dramatic literature and performance from the late 17th century into our contemporary moment with critical attention to the varied ways that theatre emerges across social and historic contexts. Students will study a range of dramatic traditions including but not limited to Peking Opera, French Neoclassical, German Classical, Japanese Noh, Russian Psychological Realism, Epic Theatre, Theatre of the Absurd, Yoruba Opera, Theatre of the Oppressed, and Teatro Campesino, while considering their related methodologies and paradigms of theatre making. Rather than attempt to survey over three centuries of global theatre, we will attune our readings, discussions, and embodied exercises to three core concepts— realism, artifice, and transgression. This course will introduce students to elements of staging and script analysis as well as seminal figures in the theorization around theatre’s evolution, its aspirations, and social stakes. Ultimately, we are asking (or perhaps reminding ourselves of) why theatre exists and persists as an essential mode of human expression and congregation.
Theatre, Performance, and Dramatic Literature
DRLIT-UA 175.001 – History of Acting | Ziter, Edward, Blaise | TR 9:30am-10:45am
Contemporary controversies surrounding acting reveal echoes of past practices. To take one example, modern debates around race-conscious casting in Shakespeare’s plays reflect how those plays performed emerging ideas of race in the Renaissance as well as changing practices of racial representation over five-hundred years of performance. Examining acting as a historically specific practice not only helps us understand past theatre and past societies, it helps us better understand acting today as product and appropriation of that past. This may help explain why in discussions of acting, passions run high. Some fifteen years before Shakespeare began performing with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, critics like Stephen Gosson complained of a flood of actors leading the nation to “pleasure, sloth, sleep, sin, and without repentance to death and the Devil.” In France, actors were denied Christian burial until the eighteenth century. However, by the nineteenth century a critic as reputable as William Hazlitt would describe the actress, Sarah Siddons, as “not less than a goddess, or than a prophetess inspired by the gods.” Whether considered damned or divine, the actor has served as a receptacle for her society’s anxieties and aspirations. Consequently, debates over the actor’s craft have breached the controversies of their day, exploring the meaning of the sublime, the human capacity for sentiment, the functioning of the human body, the makeup of the nation, even the nature of race. This class charts the evolution of these debates in Europe and the U.S. and asks why actors and acting have inspired invectives, paeans, and riots. The class introduces the student to the major actors and acting styles of both the comic and tragic stages during the Renaissance, the baroque period, the romantic period, and the modern period. Students will read and examine a range of primary materials, and will be asked to assess both their reliability and value as historical documents.
DRLIT-UA 175.002 – The Performance of Everyday Life | Grant | R 10am-1pm
DRLIT-UA 185-001 | City on Stage | Waterman, Bryan | MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
City on Stage: Inventing New York | This course sits at the intersection of urban, theater, and cultural history. It will examine the trope of the city (New York City in particular) as a “stage” as well as representations of the city on stage in a range of cultural forms including plays and other performances in the long nineteenth century. These works and accounts of their performance allow us to ask several questions about nineteenth-century literary and popular cultures in New York: What is the relationship between stage performers and urban “actors”? How do the social geographies of theater spaces -- the experiences and divisions of audience members in different types of theaters -- relate to social and political realities outside the theater doors? Who gets to act? Who writes? Who attends what kinds of theaters? Who is represented on stage and how? How might street performers -- slaves and free African Americans “dancing for eels” in a public market, for example -- comment on the politics of urban experience? How do working-class theater and blackface minstrelsy serve the needs of their audiences? What can theatrical and extratheatrical performance tell us about the histories of race and gender? What happens when citizens intrude on the stage, as in the case of the famous Astor Place Opera House riots? How and why did dramatic forms change over the course of the century? How can studying theater history deepen our previous understandings of nineteenth-century literature or of New York’s cultural history? How did New York, over the course of the nineteenth century, come to its position as the preeminent site of American theatrical production? Students should walk away from the seminar with a solid understanding of nineteenthcentury theater history as well as a sense of New York City's cultural and social developments in the same period. In addition, students will have the opportunity to hone literary critical skills and to propose and carry out a significant research project resulting in a 15-page term paper. A significant portion of our energy will be spent on questions of method: that is, how does one go about studying and writing about this sort of material? How is the study of theater and performance differ from the study of poetry or prose not intended for public performance?
DRLIT-UA 185-002 | Theatre and Medicine | Taxidou, Olga | M 2pm-4:30pm also HEL-UA 134-001
Theatre and Medicine: From the Greeks to the Modern Stage - This course examines the long-standing and constitutive relationships between theatre and medicine. From the classical Greek plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, through Shakespearean drama to Tony Kushner's Angels in America, the stage has offered a platform for the expression of illness, disability and trauma, both individual and collective. Throughout its history the stage has also offered the medical discourses metaphorical ways of conceptualizing ideas of deformity, normality, deviance and disability. At the same time, it teaches us empathy and affect and contributes to our physical and mental wellbeing. This course will examine this intertwined relationship between theatre and medicine from the Greeks to the contemporary stage, by looking at plays by, among others, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Larry Kramer and Tony Kushner.
DRLIT-UA 185-003 | Greek Tragedy & Modern Greece | Theodoratou, Helen | R 2pm-4:30pm | also HEL-UA 320-001
This course examines the ways in which Greek Tragedy is re-imagined within the broader context of Modern Greek culture from the early twentieth century to today. It is based on the premise that the encounter with the ancient texts enables Modern Greek writers, playwrights, and directors to think through, embody, and sometimes problematize concerns about nationhood, tradition and modernity, classicism and experimentation. Greek Tragedy is approached both thematically and formally, as text and vehicle for performance. This interface between the ancients and the moderns acquires particular relevance and urgency at moments of political crisis, such as the civil war, the military dictatorship, and the contemporary refugee crisis. This course will approach this dialogue within these specific historico-political contexts and concentrate on the modes of writing and re-writing it has helped to shape. We will examine the classical play-texts and the ways they have been re-imagined not only on the stage, but also in Greek poetry, fiction, music, and film. Visits from Greek filmmakers, theater directors, and artists will be an essential component of this course.
DRLIT-UA 185-004 | Re-Imagining Greek Tragedy | Taxidou, Olga | W 2pm-4:30pm also HEL-UA 140-002
The encounters with Greek Tragedy throughout the ages have not only shaped our understanding of theatre in the Western canon, but have also informed basic concepts and theories of classicism, neo-classicism and humanism more broadly. A privileged genre in aesthetic theory, its powerful roles (like Klytemnestra, Oedipus, Antigone) have had a huge impact on modern thinking, from psychoanalysis and philosophy to legal and political theory. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to Greek Tragedy, bringing together critical languages from Classics, Theatre Studies, Performance Theory, but also philosophy and critical theory. Through a series of close readings of key play-texts by the three tragedians–Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides–it will look at the ways these texts have been re-written and re-imagined for performance within the broader context of modernity. The course will also have a workshop element.
DRLIT-UA 240 – Feminism and Theatre | Alker, Gwendolyn | TR 11am-12:15pm
This class will ask how feminism is relevant for theatre studies, demonstrate how feminist theory has shaped theatre production, and investigate possible points of connection in past and present moments. Within these endeavors, we will interrogate the shift between theatre and performance, between textuality and embodiment, and between theory and practice. We will focus on key issues such as the definitions of various types of feminisms—including intersectional feminism—and the current resurgence of feminist and anti-feminist sentiment. The class will dialectically engage the perils of performance for women, as well as the potential for empowerment through feminist theatre. And yes, there will be Barbie.
DRLIT-UA 254 – 20thC Black Playwrights | Edwards, Paul | TR 2pm-3:15pm
DRLIT-UA 301 - Topics in Performance Studies | Easterling | W 9:30am-12:30pm
DRLIT-UA 293 – Classical Latina Heroines: Greek Tragedy on the Latinx Stage | Hernandez, Julia | TR 3:30pm-4:45pm | also SPAN-UA 401-002
Classical Latina Heroines: Greek Tragedy on the Latinx Stage This course explores the women protagonists of classical Greek drama and their transformations into powerful Latina voices. Ancient tragedies featuring iconic heroines such as Antigone, Elektra, Medea, and Iphigenia will be read in dialogue with their modern re-envisionings by leading voices in US Latinx and Latin American theater, including Cherrie Moraga (The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea), Luis Alfaro (Electricidad), Caridad Svich (Iphigenia Crash Land . . .), and more. This juxtaposition will highlight the enduring legacies of these mythological protagonists as figures of female resistance, resilience, and agency, set against various contemporary backdrops: the ongoing humanitarian crises spurring migration, the complex liminalities of Chicanx Borderlands identities, femicide, and domestic violence along the US-Mexico border, and the plight of the families of the disappeared throughout Latin America. Ancient and modern playtexts will be deeply contextualized within classical Athenian and contemporary Latinx/Latin American dramatic practices respectively to facilitate nuanced, culturally-informed analyses. Students will be invited to consider dramatic depictions of women through a variety of theoretical frameworks, including classical scholarship, theater studies, women’s studies, Queer theory, Chicana feminism, and diasporic studies.
DRLIT-UA 747 – Arab Theatre | Atrach, Naila | TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
Throughout the Arab world, the performing arts play a key role in interpreting and shaping popular identities, describing the past and imagining the future. While there is a popular perception in the U.S that Arab public opinion is monolithic and Arab censorship is unassailable, many film and theatre practitioners have presented daring examinations of subjects ranging from religious revivalism, family law, homosexuality, and gender relations. This class examine such works as well as their social, political, and historical contest.
DRLIT-UA 971 – Asian American Dramatic Lit | Sudhinaraset, Pacharee | M 2pm-4:45pm
This course examines the proliferation of Asian American performance in the 20th-21st Century. Through Asian American theater, dramatic texts, and performance, we will study the inter-related questions of US citizenship and belonging, US culture, racial formation, and transnational politics. Furthermore, we will consider the relationship between Asian American cultural politics, textual and performance studies, popular culture, and racialized, sexualized, and gendered formations to explore the following question: Why and how is dramatic literature, theater, and performance so central to Asian American politics?
(*courses in this category will cover your electives/class distribution reqs if you have already satisfied your pre-1900 req.)
DRLIT-UA 225-001 – Shakespeare | LEC | Archer, John, M | 11am-12:15pm | also ENGL-UA 410-001
002 | RCT | R 3:30pm-4:45pm
003 | RCT | R 4:55pm-6:10pm
Description: In this survey of William Shakespeare’s career as a playwright we will consider the relation between the mingled genres of his plays (romantic and problem comedy, history, tragedy, and tragicomic romance) and the social and political conditions that shaped his developing sense of dramatic form. Critical analysis of the plays as both performances and written works will make up the fabric of this course; the connection of the drama to its culture will be the guiding thread. Excerpts from film, video, and audio performances will be played and discussed in class along with other visual materials. We will explore nine plays. The requirements include two essays, two exams, and consistent attendance at both lectures and recitations. Individual editions of the plays from the Pelican Shakespeare series will be ordered for this course, easy to read and to carry. Plays this semester include: The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, All’s Well That Ends Well, Richard III, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and King Lear.
DRLIT-UA 524-001 – Topics in International Cinema | China on Screen | He, Xiang | T 9:15am-12:15pm | also EAST-UA 952-001
In 2018, with about 9 billion US dollars at the box office, China became the world's second-largest and fastest-growing film market. The expanding film industry is characteristic of an influx of urban middle-class audiences and the intensification of transnational film production. On the one hand, this course aims to investigate the representation of modern China through a cinematic lens and, on the other, showcases a historical trajectory of the author's movies in the Chinese language. It focuses on the themes such as "female body as the object of desire," "identity and spatial narrative," "traumas and memories," etc. The filmmakers that will be discussed include the Fifth Generation in mainland China (such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, and Tian Zhuangzhuang), Hong Kong New Wave (such as Ann Hui and Wong Kar-wai), Taiwan New Wave (such as Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao Hsien), and the Chinese Urban Generation (such as Lou Ye and Jia Zhangke).
Practical Theatre Courses
Courses offered by Open Arts, Steinhardt, and Tisch Drama may count toward the Dramatic Lit major and minor as practical theatre courses on a case-by-case basis. Please write to Mary Mezzano with non-DRLIT-UA courses you are interested in for advisement and approval.