Course Instructor Days Times Room


Why present a work of literature in dramatic form? What role does live performance play in the expression of literary ideas? And how does drama respond to the society from which it springs? Does it regurgitate cultural ideas, parody them, or critique them? In this introduction to the literature of drama written in English, we will read (and see) plays and performances written in English, beginning with Medieval mystery drama and concluding with cutting edge 21st century experimental theatre. We'll learn how to read and analyze a script, how to discuss plays as literature while keeping questions of performance firmly in view, and we'll investigate the historical periods that gave rise to these plays. We'll read widely across variety of genres including Medieval mystery or morality plays, Renaissance Comedy, Revenge Tragedy, Restoration Comedy, Melodrama, Comedy of Manners, American Epic, Musical theatre, Historical drama, and collaborative experimental play. We will attempt to see as many live and recorded performances as we can, as well as stage our own.

We will read a selection of plays taken from this longer list:

Anonymous, Everyman

John Lyly, Gallathea

William Shakespeare, Othello

Aphra Behn, The Rover

George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion

Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Amiri Baraka, Dutchman

Caryl Churchill, Top Girls

Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country's Good

Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Lynn Nottage, Sweat

Lauren Gunderson, I and You

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Anne Washburn, Mr Burns: A Post-electric Play