Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
Drama might be described as a game played with something sacred. It tells stories that go right to the heart of what people believe about themselves. And it is enacted in the moment, which means it has an added layer of interpretive mystery and playfulness, or "theatricality." This course will explore theater and theatricality across periods and cultures, through intensive engagement with texts and with our own readings.
At the end of the course, the student will have a general overview of dramatic movements and ideas across countries and historical periods, a sense of how to write about these ideas in relation to specific texts, and a sense of why drama matters to them.
Elam, Keir. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. London, UK and New York, NY: Methuen young books, 1980. ISBN: 9780416720501. [Preview a version of this book in Google Books.]
Over the course of the semester, you will asked to do the following:
- Two written weekly questions/comments, on one or more reading from the week's assignment. These should consist of a lengthy paragraph, approximately ½ page, single-spaced, and must include a passage of 5-10 lines from the text you are discussing in each question/comment.
- One assigned close reading of a passage from Medea, 5-pp.
- One 5-page paper in which you will develop one of your comments/questions on a play (other than Medea) into a short paper discussing your ideas about the text in more detail.
- An essay review of 5 pages on a drama or performance piece you have seen this term.
- Group presentation: Present one playwright not covered in the course and argue why it should be included.
|Attendance and class participation||30%|
|One close reading of a passage from Medea, 5 pages. This will be revised.||15%|
|One 5 page paper||20%|
|An essay review||15%|
MIT Literature Statement on Plagiarism
Plagiarism—use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.
|WEEK #||TOPICS||KEY DATES|
|1||Overview; questions, introductions, close reading|
Euripides, "Medea" (431 BCE)
Elam, "Semiotics of Theatre and Drama"
Kan'ami, "Matsukaze" (14 c.)
Zeami, "A Mirror Held to the Flower" (1424)
|Medea close reading due, 5 pages|
|4||Chushingura, "The Forty-Seven Samurai" (18c.)|
Everyman (1495) bring a theatre review to discuss in class
Everyman workshop Medea paper in class
Calderón, "Life is a Dream" (1636)
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, "Loa to the Divine Narcissus" (1687)
|Medea revision due|
|7||Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest" (1895)|
|8||Chekhov, "The Cherry Orchard" (1904)||5-pp paper based on weekly comment/question due|
|9||Shaw, "Major Barbara" (1905)|
Brecht, "Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction"
Artaud, "The Theater and Its Double"
Amiri Baraka, "The Revolutionary Theatre" (p. 824)
|Presentation proposals due|
|11||Glaspell, "Trifles" (1916)|
|12||Chuchill, "Cloud Nine" (1980)||Play review due|
Kane, "Blasted" (1995)
Ideas for the future