English 28

Introduction to the Study of Drama


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2020 Landreth, David
TTh 9:30-11 106 Wheeler

Book List

Norton Anthology of Drama, Shorter Third Edition; Brook, Peter: The Empty Space; Frisch, Max: The Arsonists; Jacobs-Jenkins, Branden: Gloria; Kirkwood, Lucy: The Children; Orton, Joe: Loot

Description

The work of this class will be to understand the drama as literature in company. Lots of other literary forms make claims about what social life is like, and strive to act upon the social life of their readers beyond the reading experience. But the drama is itself sociable. It assembles a company of actors and stage hands to make itself happen, and enfolds with them a whole new company, the audience, as it happens. Even if we read a playscript in solitude, even if it's the script of a play that has never been acted, the form of the text reminds us that it is written against solitude—it calls us to invest the speeches we read in human bodies, charting with their words and movements a space in which the play is happening.

We'll move back and forth between active reading of playtexts and play-going at local theaters as the semester progresses. Our reading will focus on a few crucial concepts for the analysis of drama—the tragic choice, the workings of space and illusion, spectacle, character, prop—using both primary dramatic texts and some classic literary studies. About half of the primary texts will be important prototypes from earlier periods—ancient Greece and Renaissance England—and the rest will come from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We'll do a bit of tragedy as a point of reference, but most of the plays will be comedies, in keeping with the coming of spring.

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