Theatre Research and Bibliography (Professor Erika Lin): This course will provide an overview of the profession and how one joins the many conversations taking place in the profession. 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. We will attempt to plan a trip to one of the theatre archives in New York, and you will be responsible for conducting and writing up archival research. Factors that affect final course grades include: informed participation in class discussion and an in-class exam written on the scheduled exam date; frequent 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 Theatrical Theory and Criticism: Marxism, Theatre, Performance: Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Pierre Bourdieu, and Raymond Williams (Professor David Savran): Since the 1920s, Marxist philosophers and theorists have debated the political import of theatrical, musical, and literary performances. Focusing on four major figures—Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Pierre Bourdieu, and Raymond Williams—this course will study the many and ongoing debates about theatre and performance that helped shape Western Marxism, disputes about popular culture, expressionism, epic theatre, cultural hierarchy, imperialism, and racial formations. We will read key works by these four theorists (and their recent critics and interlocutors) which analyze the socioeconomics and aesthetics of theatre as an institution and the effectivity of performance practices. Final grades will be determined by participation in seminar, two written reports, and a final paper.
Fridays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Theatre and Society: Early Modern English and European Theatre and Performance: Spectacle, Sport, and Play (Professor Erika Lin): While the plays of Shakespeare and the performances of the commedia dell’arte are now an integral part of the Western theatrical tradition, they were often viewed in their own time period as disreputable spectacles, more closely affiliated with acrobatics and football than with high art. This course presents an introduction to commercial theatre in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England and Europe (especially useful for those who anticipate having to teach it in the future). At the same time, we will situate theatre in relation to broader cultural discourses and performance practices in order to shed light on the social functions of playing. In addition to a firm grounding in a specific historical era, the seminar will also explore the methodological and historiographic stakes of varying approaches to the material and theorize the significance of this work for studies of later theatre. Discussions will weave together dramatic literature, theatre history, and performance studies. Our analysis of plays will foreground issues of gender, sexuality, social class, and religion while covering the fundamentals of early modern dramatic genres and forms, the production and reception of printed playtexts, intersections across media (manuscript, print, performance), and the way archives shape our objects of study. Readings may include, for example, plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dekker, Ford, and Webster; Spanish Golden Age drama by Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Guillén de Castro, and Tirso de Molina; court masques by Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones; anonymously or collectively crafted work, such as commedia dell’arte scenarios, French farces, and German jigs; humanist theatrical forms found in universities; and religious drama from various regions. As we read these plays and scenarios, we will also examine the material conditions of performance (e.g., actors, audiences, stage spaces, costumes and props, special effects, repertory schedules, economics) with special attention to early modern notions of the body, affect, and sensory perception. Finally, we will explore theatre’s overlaps with alternative performance practices, including mixed-genre spectacles (clowning, medicinal quacks, tumblers, and rope-dancers), officially sanctioned ceremonies (civic processions, religious devotions, public executions, and dismemberment), and popular customs (festive roleplaying, blood sports such as bearbaiting and cockfighting, dancing and music, shaming rituals, athletic activities, games). As students work on individual research projects, we will address the idiosyncrasies of primary sources from this period, consider practical strategies for dealing with the challenges they pose, and analyze their broader theoretical and epistemological implications for theatre scholarship within and beyond the early modern period. Evaluation: active class participation, short weekly response papers, possible brief in-class presentation, research proposal with annotated bibliography, and a final paper.
Tuesdays, 4:15pm to 6:15pm
History of American Theatre: Tennessee Williams in Context (Professor Annette Saddik): The career of Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) spanned six decades. An unusually productive writer, Williams began writing serious plays during the Great Depression, achieved the height of popular and critical success in the postwar climate of the 1940s and '50s, and, despite repeated assaults from the critical establishment and a sharp decline in the popularity of his later plays, continued to write and respond to social changes throughout the 1960s, `70s, and `80s. This course explores Williams’s plays in the context of changing social, cultural, and political developments in the United States from the 1930s to the 1980s, and examines his relationship to the work of other playwrights in each period such as Eugene O’Neill, Elmer Rice, Clifford Odets, Lillian Hellman, Robert Anderson, Edward Albee, William Inge, Samuel Beckett, and Charles Ludlam. Assignments will include two essays and an oral presentation. Essay #1 (7-10 pages) will be worth 30 percent; Essay #2 (10-15 pages) will be worth 40 percent; and the in-class presentation of 20-30 minutes will be worth 30 percent.
Wednesdays, 4:15pm to 6:15pm
History of Cinema I (Professor Anupama Kapse): This class will survey the emergence of cinema from inter-related perspectives that situate early experiments with moving images alongside older moving image technologies and theatrical practices that often coexisted with the new medium. The course will not only focus on cinema's so-called progress but its ability to radically enhance viewing possibilities, alter public culture, change perceptions of modernity, picture new women, mobilize race-gender politics, and effect social transformation. We will situate these topics within the larger context of international film movements, the development of national cinemas worldwide, and broader questions of film archaeology and historiography. Although our primary examples will be drawn from American silent cinema, we will also consider British, Indian, Chinese, Russian, Swedish, and German examples to better understand the global spread and varied applications of the medium. Finally, we will examine the initial impact of sound on cinema though, as we will see, silent cinema often included some sort of aural accompaniment. Students will be encouraged to think of film history as a practice that extends beyond silent cinema into a host of related areas: these include not only 'discarded' media and film formats but medium crossings between theater, literature, and local performance traditions such as shadow puppetry, and the various incarnations of opera. To that end, this class will ask students to explore the different methods available for producing film history and ask how film continues to proliferate after the 'death' of celluloid. Requirements: Readings must be completed before the day for which they are slotted. Please come to class on time. Full attendance, engaged viewing, and active classroom participation are vital for your success. Discussion-20%. Reading responses and discussion questions-10%. A research paper with original content (20-25 pages) on a topic of your choice will fulfill a major requirement for this course-70%. Your topic must be chosen in consultation with me. A one-page proposal will be due five weeks before the final paper is due, after which we will meet to discuss your topic. More than one absence will make it difficult to pass the course. Please let me know at least a day in advance if you are going to miss class, unless you have an emergency. Screenings will include selections and/or whole features, as well as additional viewing, to be completed outside class: The Movies Begin: A Treasury of Early Cinema, 1894-1913, Edison: The Invention of the Movies: 1891-1918, Landmark of Early Film, Vol 1, George Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema, More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894-1931, Griffith Masterworks, extracts from American, British, and French serials, The Birth of Krishna (1919), shorts by Chaplin and Keaton, The Thief of Baghdad (1924), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Ingeborg Holm (1913), Man with a Movie Camera (1929), The Goddess (1934), Pandora's Box (1929), Falling Leaves (1912), and Where are my Children? (1916). Key Readings (Additional readings will be posted on the course website).
Tuesdays, 4:15pm to 8:15pm
Sem. in Film Studies: Film Art: Visual/Verbal Interrelations (Professor Mary Ann Caws): We will be especially dealing with diverse applications and interrelations of various ways in which the fields of art and literature have entered into the universe of film. Among our investigations some of the following will be included, depending on the interests of the participants, the time slots, and the availability of the DVDs, videos, and so on: novel, story, poem, and dance as they can be related to film -- certain questions of omission and deformation will arise; performance art (dance, drama, musical concert) and film (poetic readings, opera, ballet) videos; paintings and film (artist biographies, video and exhibition films, gustatory visuality); and marginal and "poetic" film creations (such as those by Joseph Cornell, Jerome Hill, Brakhage, Jean Cocteau, and the surrealists). Each participant will present at least once an interrelation between some work of art and some film, and write on another interrelation for a final paper, so that each person will have a minimum of two investigations, preferably in two very different fields. Museum visits encouraged. How we speak and write about the cinematic along with the pictorial and the literary is the point of this seminar. Readings and viewings will include selections such as the following: 1) novels and stories --Henry James (The Golden Bowl in its two versions, The Altar of the Dead), Edith Wharton (Age of Innocence), Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse); various versions of Melville including the recent one, In the Heart of the Sea; 2) reading of Stéphane Mallarmé's essays on dance and versions of dance films: Russian Ark, The Black Swan, Frederick Wiseman 's film La Danse, the Russian ballet film, and so on; 3) films of Joseph Cornell and readings from his letters and source files together with Stan Brakhage's Wonder Ring (backwards), Jerome Hill's films overpainted; 4) surrealist films including Le Chien Andalou and writings by Dali, such as his novel Hidden Faces; Jean Cocteau's Les Parents Terrible, Les Enfants Terribles and the plays associated with the films, and his Blood of a Poet; 5) Peter Greenaway's presentations of Veronese and his films with Tom Phillips, such as The Tempest; Rembrandt's ''J'accuse" and "Nightwatching"; biographies of Gauguin and his writings, Van Gogh, and his letters to Theo; and 6) Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and the film Everest (How to film and speak of extremes?) What kinds of very different questions are elicited by these interrelated concepts, works, and materials? Readings will include, among the obvious ones listed above, George Bluestone's Novel into Film and reference books on the relations of art and text, such as those by W.J.T. Mitchell on the side of theory, and, on the visionary side, novels and stories by Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, Herman Melville, and Virginia Woolf; Joseph Cornell's Theatre of the Mind: Selected Diaries, Letters and Files (ed. M.A. Caws) and other writings on Cornell and his relation to surrealism; and readings from my The Eye in the Text and the Surrealist Look,: an Erotics of Encounter; Tom Phillips ' A Humument and other art books.
Wednesdays, 2:00pm to 6:00pm
Seminar in Film Studies: Rock & Roll & Film & Video: Noise and Image 1954 - 2014 (Professor Marc Dolan): This course will examine the ways in which one medium has adapted itself to depict another, how cinema has been changed by fifty years' worth of attempts to capture the essence and experience of rock 'n' roll. Originally depicted in mid-twentieth-century films as a novelty or threat—almost as if it were a new ethnic group that endangered transatlantic consensus, culture-rock became more familiar subject matter in films of the 1960s and 1970s. Young filmmakers who prided themselves on the uniqueness of their generation’s experience tried to capture rock performance and fandom at this time in a way that did not necessarily repeat the formal poetics of music-on-film that had been inaugurated thirty years before at the height of swing. In succeeding decades, as both the music and its fans aged, rock became a less literal, more mythic subject for filmmakers, with the figures of the rock star and the rock fan becoming more abstracted the farther away audiences got from the new music's postwar origins. The course will begin with a short, expositional survey of the first three decades of jazz and film but then move rather quickly to the cinematics of rock itself. The first half of the semester will be taken up with a historical survey of film on rock, moving from 50s exploitation films [The Girl Can't Help It (d: Frank Tashlin, 1956)/King Creole (d: Michael Curtiz, 1958)] to 60s depictions of the world of the British invasion [A Hard Day's Night (d: Richard Lester, 1964)/Blowup (d: Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)] to the new poetics of American folk rock [Woodstock (d: Michael Wadleigh, 1970)/ The Last Waltz (d: Martin Scorsese, 1978)] and British punk [Jubilee (d: Derek Jarman, 1977)/Straight to Hell (d: Alex Cox, 1987)] in the 1970s and 1980s. After a brief investigation of the effects of MTV on both rock and cinema [selected videos by David Fincher, John Sayles, Spike Lee et al./selected episodes of Miami Vice (1984-1989)], the course will shift in its second half to a more thematic approach, first examining depictions of local music scenes [Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains! (d: Lou Adler, 1981)/Light of Day (d: Paul Schrader, 1987)] and the music industry itself [Sugar Town (d: Alison Anders & Kurt Voss, l999)/Laurel Canyon (d: Lisa Chodolenko, 2002)], and then moving on to the consideration of rock and roll as history [Quadrophenia (d: Franc Roddam, 1979)/Absolute Beginners (d: Julien Temple, 1986)], autobiography [Tro, hab og kcerlighed [ Twist and Shout] (d: Bille August, 1984)/Almost Famous (d: Cameron Crowe, 2000)], and myth [Phantom of the Paradise (d: Brian DePalma, 1974)/ Streets of Fire (d: Walter Hill, 1984)], finally concluding with treatments of the figure of the rock star as symbolic figure [Performance (d: Donald Cammell & Nicolas Roeg, 1970)/ Pink Floyd The Wall (d: Alan Parker, 1982)] and postmodern subject [Velvet Goldmine (d: Todd Haynes, 1998)/I'm Not There (d: Todd Haynes, 2007)]. If time permits, we may spend a week on the borrowed, self-generated, and imposed iconographies of David Bowie. Readings will be drawn from David E. James, Rock ‘N’ Film (2016), John Kenneth Muir, Rock and Roll on Film (2007), and Marc Wiengarten, Station to Station: The Secret History of Rock and Roll on Television (2002), as well as a number of journal articles. Prior musical experience or training is not a prerequisite for the course, but a good set of headphones might be nice.
Fridays, 11:45am to 2:45pm