Fall 2018 Course Descriptions
Theatre Research and Bibliography
(Professor Erika Lin)
This course will provide an overview of the profession and how one joins the many conversations taking place in the profession. Classes will concern such matters as general research methodologies as demonstrated in current publications; approaches to historiography; the procedure for getting papers accepted for conferences and the benefits of participating therein; and a number of issues related to teaching. A constant theme will be the preparation and writing of research papers, conference papers, and papers for publication. Examples and strategies will be drawn from scholarship on a broad range of geographical and historical material. We will attempt to plan a trip to one of the theatre archives in New York, and you will be responsible for conducting and writing up archival research. Factors that affect final course grades include: informed participation in class discussion and an in-class exam written on the scheduled exam date; frequent written exercises; and several class presentations, most of them connected to a final term paper based on archival research.
Thursdays, 2:00 pm to 4:00pm
Contextual and Intertextual Studies in Drama
(Professor Marvin Carlson)
This course will be concerned with texts drawn from world drama throughout recorded history, but in addition to placing emphasis upon structural analysis, we will also look at the social and cultural background of the texts and how they relate to other texts thematically or structurally. Each class will address approximately three plays (lengths vary), plus ancillary material, with substantial representation of both the generally accepted canon and of non-canonical works, including both pre- and post-1900 drama. Paper requirement: two 8-10 page papers, one at mid-term, the other during finals week.
Mondays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Seminar in a Dramatic Genre: African American Theatre and Performance, 1850 to the Present
(Professor James Wilson)
This seminar will focus on the artistic and political impact of African American theatre and performance from the nineteenth century to the present. Although we will examine performances and plays within their historical and geographical contexts, we will also consider the role of theatre as a tool for social change in the ongoing struggle for racial equality, representation, and activism. Some of the questions we will consider are: What effect did minstrelsy have on the development of drama, musicals, and performances by African Americans? What propagandistic and aesthetic functions are enhanced or limited by particular dramatic genres, such as the folk play, anti-lynching drama, satirical comedy, and Broadway melodrama? How do issues of class, gender, and sexual orientation intersect with the attempts to forge a national black identity? How has theatre and performance circulated within the African diaspora? A sampling of the playwrights and performers will include, but is in no way limited to: Ira Aldridge, William Wells Brown, Bert Williams, Angelina Grimké, Mary Burrill, Willis Richardson, Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, the Negro Ensemble Company, Efua Sutherland, Wole Soyinka, Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange, August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tarell Alvin McCraney. We will also examine black pageants, diasporic folk dance concerts, and musical revues. Contemporaneous criticism and theoretical treatises will provide the tools for interpreting and historicizing the texts, and students will be asked to weigh these against recent multidisciplinary scholarship and theory in African American studies (including the work of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Paul Gilroy, Hazel Carby, Karin BaSeminar rber, Tavia Nyong’o, Harvey Young, and others). Course requirements include a presentation, two short written responses (one of which will be a book review suitable for publication), and an original 15-20 page research paper (which will be preceded by a prospectus, annotated bibliography, and an optional first draft). Students will share their research in a mock academic conference.
Mondays, 4:15pm to 6:15pm
Seminar in Theatre and Related Performing Arts: Avant-Gardist Opera and Music Theatre since the 1920s
(Professor David Savran)
The past one hundred years has witnessed a flowering of many new genres and subgenres of music theatre, from twelve-tone works to Broadway opera, postmodernist music theatre to Chinese revolutionary operas. This course will study works of opera and music theatre that were deemed experimental in their day or that challenge generic boundaries, focusing on musical theatrical traditions in the United States, Germany, China, and Korea. The course is not designed as a survey but will offer a highly selective panorama of many different kinds and styles of music theatre, with critical analyses of mise en scène, music, text, vocalization, reception, and theories of the avant-garde. Because the course will emphasize stage productions, most pieces will be accessible through good quality videos, in addition to sound recordings, librettos, scores, and other materials. Works to be studied include landmarks such as Wozzeck (Berg), The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Weill/Brecht), Four Saints in Three Acts (Thomson/Stein), Porgy and Bess (Gershwin/Heyward/Gershwin), The Cradle Will Rock (Blitzstein), Die Soldaten (Zimmermann), Einstein on the Beach (Glass/Wilson), Nixon in China (Adams/Goodman), Sweeney Todd (Sondheim/Weidman), Le Grand Macabre (Ligeti), Floyd Collins (Guettel) as well as Chinese operas, Korean changgeuk, and recent small-scale work by U.S. composers and librettists. Final grades will be determined by participation in seminar, two written reports, and a final paper.
Tuesdays, 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Theatre and Society: Contemporary Latin American Theatre and Performance (1960-present)
(Professor Jean Graham-Jones)
This course takes a "geochronological" approach to surveying Latin American theatre and performance of the last fifty-plus years. In other words, the course will be organized around the last six decades to examine theatre and performance practices of two or more countries within the context of each decade. Particular attention will be paid to principal trends and movements of late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century Latin American theatre and cultural terms in play during each decade. We will study how Latin American theatre practitioners have adopted, adapted, critiqued, and rejected extra-Latin American traditions, as well as created, transformed, and questioned specifically Latin American theoretical and aesthetic models.
Playwrights, directors, performers, groups, and festivals likely to be discussed in the course (and grouped according to country) include: Lola Arias, Roberto Mario Cossa, Osvaldo Dragún, Griselda Gambaro, Ricardo Monti, Eduardo Pavlovsky, Mariano Pensotti, Diana Raznovich, Rafael Spregelburd, Daniel Veronese, Open Theatre, and Theatreforidentity (Argentina); Augusto Boal, Antunes Filho, Newton Moreno, and Denise Stoklos (Brazil); Isidora Aguirre, Guillermo Calderón, Marco Antonio de la Parra, Jorge Díaz, Diamela Eltit, Manuela Infante, Andrés Pérez and the Great Circus-Theatre of Chile, Juan Radrigán, and Egon Wolff (Chile); Enrique Buenaventura and Experimental Theatre of Cali, La Candelaria Theatre, and Mapa Teatro (Colombia); Tania Bruguera, Alberto Pedro Torriente, José Triana, and Escambray Theatre (Cuba); Sabina Berman, Emilio Carballido, Rosario Castellanos, Petrona de la Cruz Cruz, Astrid Hadad, Jesusa Rodríguez, and Maruxa Vilalta (Mexico); Alan Bolt and Nixtayolero Group (Nicaragua); Yuyachkani (Peru); Myrna Casas and Luis Rafael Sánchez (Puerto Rico); and Gustavo Ott (Venezuela). Students will be expected to post online three short response papers and deliver in class two brief reports on selected recommended readings, as well as submit a final research paper on a topic related to the seminar (15-20 pages).
Wednesdays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm
History of Cinema II
(Professor Michael Gillespie)
This class engages with how cinema complicates, renders, and critiques the idea of history. In this way, this class will examine how cinema narrativizes or enacts a writing of history in the terms of ‘visual historiography.’ If historiography is the study of the writing of history, then this class will consider the cinematic writing of history with attention to narrativity, the purpose of historical narratives, and the significant values and meanings attributed to history. Furthermore, the class will focus on the emplotment of history by the visual and the significant epistemological questions about the shared impulse of narrativity between history and film as visual art. We will explore questions of truth and authenticity, temporality, the production of historical knowledge, memory and remembrance, trauma, and power. Our focus will take a critically disobedient approach in the sense that we will treat the films as historiographic interventions while also avoiding the fidelity concerns that most often shadow discussion of film and history. Thus, these films will be treated as distinct acts of visual historiography that consequentially confound and enliven our understanding of history and the critical capacities of visual art.
Tuesdays, 11:45am to 3:45pm
Sem. in Film Studies: Genre and Global Conflict
(Professor Ria Banerjee)
This course will examine the interaction between a film’s employment of genre and the conflicts it depicts, defined broadly and globally. We will begin with the opening premise that genre fundamentally affects subject matter, so any analysis of film involves attention to the interpellation of form and content. War, an enormity of violence, seems to ask for “serious” filmic forms such as the documentary or drama; what happens, then, when it appears in forms that appear on the surface to be less serious, frivolous even? This redefinition of the parameters of a “war film” means that we will begin the course with a rigorous discussion of what the term means to us as a class using a classic of the genre such as Apocalypse Now. We will then consider the way that other genres have deployed conflicts: for instance, the American Civil War in the classic Western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and the fantasy thriller, Pan’s Labyrinth, set in Franco’s Spain. World War II will inevitably form a bulk of our investigations. We will range from documentary film with a turbulent reception history like Night and Fog, to the depiction of Vichy France in the romance Casablanca, and World War II intrigue in The Third Man. Class discussions will also cluster around the Partition of India in 1947, a displacement of fourteen million people that is considered one of the bloodiest recent upheavals. We will discuss the ways that it is invoked in big budget Bollywood musicals like Earth versus in Ritwick Ghatak’s low-budget indie trilogy from the 1960s. Can comedy accommodate serious conflicts? We will approach this question by discussing the Crusades and holy war in light of the self-conscious silly-serious medievalism of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Other genres we might consider include historical romances (Gladiator), horror/sci-fi (District 9), and animation (Waltz with Bashir), keeping an eye on the different conflicts they reference. Television has contributed its own powerful note to this question of genre; time permitting, we will consider treatments of conflict in The Twilight Zone and Prisoners of War (Hatufim), among others. Since we will range widely in both genres we consider and the conflicts shown on film, students will be asked to present on one conflict of their choice from the syllabus; they will also contribute weekly to blog posts and class discussions. Final paper of 15-20 pages with view to publication in a suitable academic forum.
Wednesdays, 4:15pm to 8.15pm