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Fall 2019

Fall 2019 Course Descriptions

THEA70100-Theatre Research
(Professor Erika Lin)
Thursday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
This course will provide an overview of the profession and how one begins to join the conversation it represents. 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. Factors that affect grades include: demonstration that the assigned readings have been done, via informed participation in class discussion and on an in-class exam, written on the scheduled exam date; weekly written exercises; and several class presentations, most of them connected to a final term paper.

THEA 70300-Contextual and Intertextual Studies in Drama
Monday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
(Professor Marvin Carlson)
A study of selected dramatic texts from world drama, representing a wide range of traditions and forms, from ancient times to the present. Three or more plays, depending on length, will be analyzed each week, along with ancillary theoretical and historical materials. Plays studied will be placed in historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts and viewed in relation to other works of literature, art, and music. Special consideration will be given to the nature and history of genres, such as farce, tragicomedy, melodrama, history play; types, such as the political, including agit-prop, living newspaper, documentary, verbatim; movements, such as Sturm und Drang, naturalism, symbolism; modes, such as satire, pastoral, grotesque, sublime; devices and conventions, such as parable, allegory, ekphrasis; themes and topics (topoi), such as myth, social or natural environments (ecocriticism), war, exile; and cultural encounters, such as appropriation, adaptation, parody. Assignments include one short and one longer paper and a final examination.

THEA80300-Seminar in Theatre Theory & Criticism: German Theatre/Theory
Tuesday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
(Professor David Savran)
This course will study leading figures in German playwriting, dramaturgy, theatrical theory, and mise en scène from the late eighteenth century to the present. Focusing on a number of key artists, it will analyze both their historical situations and their persistent relevance and vitality on the German-language stage. These include playwrights and composers Friedrich Schiller, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Wagner, Bertolt Brecht, Marieluise Fleisser, Kurt Weill, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Heiner Müller, and Elfriede Jelinek; directors Christoph Marthaler, Barrie Kosky, Yael Ronen, and Herbert Fritsch; and the collective Rimini Protokoll. Studying a number of plays and music theatre pieces in translation, the course will survey signal twentieth and twenty-first century productions as well as radically reconceived adaptations of classic texts. It will focus additionally on a number of key concepts that have impelled the work of both artists and theorists, such as Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), epic theatre, the aura, defamiliarization, commitment, postdramatic, and post-migrant. Evaluation: four short written reports, class participation, and a final paper.

THEA80300-Seminar in Theatre Theory & Criticism: Theorizing the Oceanic from Antony and Cleopatra to John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea
Wednesday, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
(Professor Maurya Wickstrom)
This class explores the possibilities of the oceanic as an emergent theatre and performance practice, dramaturgy and politics. Paul Gilroy (of The Black Atlantic) has recently made a passionate argument for “sea-level theory.” We will practice this through adopting a “watery” perspective comprising a historical and theoretical constellation of white Enlightenment and modernity’s instrumentalization of the ocean; the imperial and colonial ocean-dependent production of what Sylvia Wynter calls genres of the human; the ocean of the slave trade; and, in opposition, the oceanic produced in the hold; in the Atlantic revolutions; in outer-national, interracial and multilinguistic oceanic labor, in the oceanic in Melville and the oceanic sublime; in the oceanic in archipelagic thought; in de-continentalization and more. Readings will include Sylvia Wynter, Christina Sharpe, Sarah Jane Cervenak, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, Paul Gilroy, Cesare Casarino, Michelle Ann Stephens and others. Theory will be combined with plays and contemporary performance examples including Shakespeare, Derek Walcott, Naomi Wallace, Amiri Baraka, August Wilson, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Kennedy, Lina Issa and others. Ultimately the class will draw from this constellation and its vocabularies to theorize what theatre and performance imagined and structured by “wet ontology” (Philip Steinberg) - the oceanic as a dramaturgical theory - might be or how the oceanic might structure theoretical and/or historical thinking about theatre and performance.

THEA81600-Seminar in Film Theory: Theories of the Cinema
Cross listed with FSCP8100 African Film History and Theory, 1950-1990
Mondays, 4:15 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.
Instructor Boukary Sawadogo
The birth and development of African cinema in the 1950s started against the backdrop of the discourse of othering in colonial cinema. This is evident in the underlying civilizing mission of documentaries (education, health, agriculture) and travelogues. In addition, there is the quest for exoticism in Hollywood adventure/action film subgenre that prominently feature the three figures of the blonde, the safari hunter, and the native. African cinema started gaining international attention and recognition in the 1960s, with the works of pioneer filmmakers such as Ousmane Sembène, Med Hondo, and Moustapha Alassane. The historical development of African cinema until 1990 is marked with liberation struggle, appropriation of the gaze, and cultural nationalism. From a theoretical standpoint, African cinema can be regarded as a form of oppositional cinema in the vein of anti-establishment movements of the Italian neorealism, French New Wave, Cinema Novo, and Third Cinema. 

THEA85700-Seminar in Contemporary Performance Theory and Technique
Cross listed with ART86040 Cage & Cunningham
Wednesday, 11:45-1:45 PM
Profs. Claire Bishop (Art History) and David Grubbs (Music)
Composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham began collaborating in the early 1950s, giving rise to a half decade of productive and disruptive innovations in music, dance and visual art. This research seminar will take Cage and Cunningham as a starting point to address broader interdisciplinary themes in performance from 1950 to 2010, including scoring, collaboration, improvisation, duration, and chance. The class is designed to facilitate the development of students’ own research papers, and is timed to take advantage of the Cunningham centenary in 2019.