English R1B

Reading and Composition: Drama and Disability

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Fall 2019 Drawdy, Miles
MWF 12-1 78 Barrows

Book List

Kuppers, Petra: Theatre & Disability; Lewis, Mike: Teenage Dick; Milton, John: Samson Agonistes; Shakespeare, William: Richard III; Williams, Tennessee: The Glass Menagerie; Yorkey, Brian and Tom Kitt: Next to Normal

Other Readings and Media

Additional materials will be made available on bCourses.


It is a critical truism that the disabled body is always already a theatrical body—alternatively passing and masquerading. This course will interrogate the terms of this truism by examining how both disability and theatre have been historically understood. This is fundamentally a question of aesthetics, and yet it is also a question of spectatorship, expression, decorum, rhetoric, community, ethics, etc. Beginning with the contemporary Broadway musical, this class will move backward in time through Victorian melodrama and seventeenth-century closet drama to arrive at Shakespeare's Richard III before returning to the present with Mike Lew's Teenage Dick.

This course will ask questions of the relationship between theatrical forms and forms of disability. How might we leverage analytical models invented to describe and comprehand disability as literary critical tools? How do the ways in which we stare at disabled bodies change when we have been invited—indeed, when we have paid—to stare at them? How do disabled artists stare back? What are some of the ethical obligations for the production of disability theatre—accessibility, casting, marketing, etc.? Is the non-standard body obligated to communicate something—anything at all—about disability? How could it not?

As an R1B, we will be engaging with critical writing alongside the dramatic works on the syllabus. As we engage with both primary and secondary sources, this class will also hone your critical writing skills. Students will be asked to submit various formal responses to the plays as well as a final research paper.

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