Seminar in Dramatic Theory


This course is an in-depth exploration of core works of dramatic theory from the ancient world to the present, and it will introduce texts that enunciate what theater is, has been, and should be. We will study authors' expressions of theater's role in society, their articulations of and responses to anti-theatrical prejudice, and their negotiations of the contradiction of putting "the real" on stage. Other significant themes include accounting for the aesthetic pleasures of drama and theater; theater as a means of educating the citizen; and the relationship between dramatic form and social and political revolution. Moving chronologically, we begin with foundational documents of the ancient world, including Aristotle's "Poetics," Bharata's "Natyasastra," and Horace's "Ars Poetica." The course then progresses through the Middle Ages, the Neoclassical and Romantic eras, and the explosion of fin de siecle avant-gardes. We will also read key texts from beyond the European tradition, including works of dramatic theory written in medieval Japan (Zeami), postcolonial Nigeria (Soyinka), and the millennial, multicultural United States (Parks). Along these same lines, we will also be attuned to transnational exchange and influence, particularly as it appears in the 20th-century theories of Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, and Konstantin Stanislavsky. Although the course will be focused on efforts to describe and prescribe theories of drama, dramatic genre, and theatrical pleasure, it will also position play scripts alongside the theoretical treatises that guide or are guided by them.
Course Attributes: EN S; AS SSC; FA SSC; AR SSC

Section 01

Seminar in Dramatic Theory
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