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Course Descriptions: 
Fall 2014 /Spring 2014 / Fall 2013 /Spring 2013

Course Requirements

The Ph.D. Program in Theatre requires sixty (60) hours of approved graduate work, including acceptable transfer credits. At least thirty (30) of these credits must be taken in residence at The Graduate Center. Each student is further expected to spend at least one year in full-time resident study, which will consist of a schedule of no fewer than 12 credits or the equivalent in Weighted Instructional Units for each of two consecutive semesters.

All students in the Ph.D. Program in Theatre will complete 70100 (Theatre Research) in the first semester of their program, and complete 70300 (Contextual and Intertextual Studies in Drama) and 70600 (History of Theatrical Theory), before taking the First Examination. Any of these courses may be waived (by request to the Executive Officer) if approximately equivalent work has been taken elsewhere.  After successfully passing the First Examination, all students will be required to take Advanced Theatre Research (currently offered as 85200, Seminar in Theatre History).

Core Curriculum

Of the 60 credits necessary for graduation, only 12 are required. Each entering student takes a four-course sequence in theatre research and historiography, dramatic readings, and theory which is called our “core curriculum.” Rather than a survey of content, however, our core courses are taught as seminars, focusing on methodologies with which to think about history, for example, and on pedagogy, so that students can gather ideas about how to teach theory and play structure.   To help students prepare for the First Exam, each of the first three core courses taken has a final written and/or oral examination.

Theatre Research: 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.

Contextual and Intertextual Studies in Drama: 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.

History of Theatrical Theory: This course has two objectives: to introduce students to theatrical theory and to examine other theories that have influenced contemporary theatre and cultural studies. The course will begin with a discussion of what constitutes theatrical theory and then proceed modularly to examine such key theatrical and performance concepts as representation, mimesis, character and identity, genre, and audience response. A modular structure will allow us to follow and create ongoing dialogues about these concepts as they have evolved. The second objective of the course will be met through, again, a modular approach to the presentation and discussion of such influential critical/cultural theories as formalism and structuralism, semiotics, post-structuralism, feminism, and post-colonialism, as well as other disciplinary approaches—coming from, for instance, anthropology, sociology, and psychology—that have transformed theatre studies.  Assignments will include two written projects (either two annotated bibliographies or one annotated bibliography and a research paper) as well as in-class presentations and a final examination.

Seminar in Theatre History:  Advanced Theatre Research:  This course is designed to provide students who have passed their first examination with an in-depth study of the theoretical and historiographic methodologies that have proven most important for theatre and performance studies. The course aims to help students become fluent in these critical languages and prepare them to frame their dissertation topics, conduct original research, and select the theoretical models most useful for interpreting and elaborating on their research. The theoretical readings will cover a broad range, such as cultural materialism, sociology, and feminism, as well as the methods associated with postcolonial and performance studies. The historiographic readings will focus on questions of the reliability and value of evidence, contextualization, periodization, and the relation of theatre studies to other disciplines. The written assignments aim to help students formulate field statements and book lists for the second examination and prepare them to organize the kind of intervention required of a dissertation.