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Fall 2014

Theatre Research and Bibliography (Professor James Wilson): 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 final course grades include: demonstration that the assigned readings have been done, via informed participation in class discussion and an in-class exam, written on the scheduled exam date exam; weekly written exercises; and several class presentations, most of them connected to a final term paper.
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: one short paper (7-8 pages) at mid-term; and one longer paper (10-15 pages) at the end of the term. Further specifics when class meets. Short-essay exam written in class time.
Mondays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Seminar in Theatre Theory and Criticism:  Heeding the Ordinary:  Theatre History as Microhistory
(Professor Amy Hughes): This interdisciplinary seminar explores the opportunities and challenges of investigating ordinary, under-documented, and/or overlooked people and events in order to understand a historical moment. In recent decades, scholars working within the fields of theatre history, literary studies, and American Studies have complemented conventional historical narratives by focusing on unknown individuals and neglected primary sources. Their work, described by some as "microhistory," has shown that rich insights are often hidden in the mundane details of ordinary people’s lives. Such scholarship questions and complicates many of the customary concerns that shape historiography, including what topics are considered "significant" and what evidence may be deemed "representative." How and when should we account for the everyday or the quotidian in our research? How can we do so responsibly and respectfully? When pursuing a microhistorical endeavor, how can we extrapolate a "macrohistory" without losing sight of our subject’s singularity? To address these questions, we will read scholarship that reflects the episteme, techne, and/or ethos associated with microhistory, including work by Thomas Augst, Patricia Cline Cohen, Robert Darnton, Peter Davis, Carlo Ginzburg, Odai Johnson, Jill Lepore, Heather Nathans, Andrew Sofer, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, among others, as well as prominent theorists whose ideas have something in common with this paradigm (e.g., Michel de Certeau, Clifford Geertz). When possible, we will also read (in tandem) the sources that these scholars analyze (e.g., plays, diaries, newspapers, ephemera). Students will pursue an original research project drawing heavily on archival materials and/or primary sources; pre-1900 subjects are strongly encouraged. The project will involve several steps, including an archive visit, a presentation of preliminary research (a "mini-microhistory"), a conference abstract with bibliography, an optional first draft, and a final draft. Students will also read (in full) one book listed on the syllabus and make a formal presentation about it in class.
Wednesdays, 4:15pm to 6:15pm

Seminar in Theatre Theory:  Dramaturgy and the Reinvention of Contemporary Theatre
(Professor Peter Eckersall): This course is an examination of the theories and practices of dramaturgy as a critical tool in devising contemporary performance. We will preface our study with consideration of the development of dramaturgy in historical and modern times, including discussions of the foundations of dramaturgy. We will further investigate dramaturgy as a perceptibly transforming agency in the construction, presentation, and reception of contemporary performance. Hence, we consider the provocation that contemporary performance has an intrinsic dramaturgical aspect and that the proliferation of dramaturgical practices has led to a substantial reinvention of contemporary theatre. We will consider how the practice of "new dramaturgy," a term coined by Marianne Van Kerkhoven to describe the work of dramaturgs in aiding the development of interdisciplinary performance, has led to this awareness. Her work was predicated on dramaturgy as the basis for an emergent hybridity in theatre that we will examine with reference to case studies. Moreover, dramaturgy has revived an interest in how live performance engages with social contexts and political themes, and we will consider how the field of contemporary performance has grown as a result of this. Finally, the course will examine the changing work of dramaturgs in this expanded territory. What do dramaturgs now do in rehearsal studios and how is their work perceived by other artists? We will investigate these questions through examination of documentation of production processes, published interviews, and writing by dramaturgs. Evaluation: A short paper of dramaturgical analysis (5-6 pages) at mid-term, an applied dramaturgy group exercise and longer research paper (15-20) pages at the end of term. Further details and reading provided in class.
Mondays, 4:15pm to 6:15pm

Seminar in Theatre Theory: Theatre and Related Performing Arts:  Performance and the State
(Professor Sara Brady): The theme for this course arises from the confrontation between artistic performances and acts initiated by the state. Such "enactments of power," as Ngugi wa Thiong’o calls them, have occurred in diverse contexts over time and space. In this course we will critically engage with a number of key questions: How does the state perform? To what end(s)? How have artists found ways in performance to deny the state power? In what contexts do performers collaborate with the state? In what instances have state-sanctioned performers or politicians enacted more theatre than reality? When—and for what reasons—does the state use "make belief"? How does the state perpetuate a reliance on performance? When has theatre become more efficacious than the state? Engaging with theoretical readings from Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Louis Althusser, Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Jacques Ranciere, Elaine Scarry, Diana Taylor, and others, we will analyze several case studies in which state and artistic performances are both active—whether in conflict or cooperation. We will revisit the origins of the antitheatrical bias and consider its use and misuse since Plato’s rejection of the artist from his ideal Republic and Aristotle’s defense of drama. We will attend to non-Western conceptions of theatre and performance that deny a strong demarcation between art and life and ask how such worldviews move between power and representation. The performative aspects of colonial rule beginning in the 15th century will be compared to the postcolonial nationmaking of the 19th and 20th centuries. Theatre’s relationship with power and the use of spectacle by the state will also be carefully considered with diverse case studies selected from Ancient Rome and Renaissance Europe through the Russian Revolution, Nazi Germany, and contemporary North Korea. Students will make a class presentation and develop a research project and final fifteen-to-twenty-page paper.
Wednesdays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Aesthetics of the Film
 (Professor Robert Singer): Aesthetics provide the student with basic skills necessary to read a film. This course concentrates on formal analysis of the aesthetic and ideological elements that comprise historical and contemporary cinema. This course introduces the student to various genres of narrative cinema and different categories of cinema such as experimental, documentary, animation, and hybrid forms produced in the United States and internationally. Particular emphasis is placed on the analysis of the film’s artistic/ideological contents. We will learn to recognize the techniques and conventions that structure our experience of cinema – narrative systems, mise en scene, cinematography, editing, sound, genre – in order to understand how these various components combine to yield film form, as we focus on the work of important film theorists. Learning goals for students in this course include the ability to apply effective research tools and techniques from print and digital resources, the development of competence in the presentation of research knowledge in written communication (an approved final paper, approximately 20 pages, based on the course material), and oral communication (an in-class report). All films are screened in advance or in class, in select shot sequences. The required text is Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White’s The Film Experience: An Introduction. 3rd ed. (Bedford/St. Martin’s 2012), and additional reading selections will be placed on a course CD.
Mondays, 4:15pm to 7:15pm

History of Cinema II: 1930-1980 
(Professor Marc Dolan): This is a course in the history of international film in the golden age of mass culture, from a time of global depression to the dawn of the age of globalization.  In the early weeks of the course, we will consider how the shock of synchronization made the global film industry more centrifugal than it had been for at least a decade, and threw filmmakers back to a much more concentrated focus on their intranational studio systems, most famously in the US but also in most European countries. Special attention will be given in our meetings to how the most advanced techniques in film were harnessed to the cause of national propaganda, not only in Nazi Germany but also in the US. The extent to which individual artifice could succeed and even thrive within an industrial/national system of film production will be a major theme in the early part of the course, as we weigh the triumphs of both the individual artistic achievements of this period (Le Regle de Jeu) as well as collective ones (The Wizard of Oz). The later part of the course will focus on post-WWII international trade in film, which turned the commodification and cachet of "art cinema" into a method for exhibiting national difference.  Italian Neo-Realism, the French New Wave, and the rebirth of Swedish naturalism will be examined in this context, as will the varied circulation beyond Indian borders of the works of Satyajit Ray and Raj Kapoor.  The internalization of film capitalization and production in the 1960s will then be considered, not only the ways in which American Westerns were made in Spain and Burt Lancaster became an Italian film star, but also the ways in which such Eastern European directors as Roman Polanski and Milos Forman could become mainstays of US commercial films.  In the 1960s, film once again became what it had been before synchronization—a so-called "international language." After the preceding three decades, however, the national "dialects" of that language were now much more manifest than they had been during the late silent period, and more generally accepted than they had been four decades before. In our final weeks, we will give consideration to the mass culture equivalent of the 1960s high culture explosion of cinephilia: the explosion of exploitation cinema during the 1970s.  The globalization of grindhouses and driveins during the 1970s (including the significant spread throughout the US and Europe of films from Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Pictures) paved the way for a later VCR-enabled generation of independent filmmakers. Readings will primarily be drawn from David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s Film History: An Introduction and Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen’s anthology Film Theory and Criticism, but other readings will be put on reserve to reflect the specific interests of registered students.                  
Fridays, 11:45am to 2:45pm

Seminar in Film Studies: Performing Blackness from Stage to Screen
 (Professor Racquel Gates): Since its inception, film has been fascinated with the aesthetic and performative dimensions of blackness. Whether it is the spectacle of white soapsuds against black skin in A Morning Bath (Edison, 1896) or the numerous screen adaptations of the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin that dominate early narrative film, cinema has always been inextricably entwined with blackness. Given early cinema’s connection to stage performance, it should come as little surprise that many of the tropes and representational strategies that the cinema adopted to portray blackness bore, and continue to bear, close relation to minstrelsy. This seminar will trace the development of such representational strategies over the course of cinema from its inception to the current day. More specifically, the course will examine the ways that "performing blackness" has played a crucial role in the evolution of the medium, whether from the perspective of Jewish artists trying to establish their racial identities in early Hollywood, or African American artists attempting to subvert dominant representational modes. While the course will focus heavily on Hollywood cinema and mainstream media, it will also incorporate discourses from performance studies, critical race studies, and gender studies. Screenings will cover a large range of genres and historical periods, from Edison’s early shorts to more recent releases like Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2000). Course assignments will consist of in-class presentations, an ongoing reading/screening journal (3-4 pages per week), as well as a final seminar paper (20 pages). Students will choose a specific week where they will present the reading/s to the class and assist the professor in leading discussion. The journal will consist of the students’ responses to the readings and the screenings, which they will update weekly. Students will choose their final paper topic based on their own academic interests and the focus of the course.  Reading/screening list available in Certificate Programs Office (Room 5110)
Tuesdays, 2:00pm to 6:00pm