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Documenting Historic Performance

ENGL 599.301
instructor(s):
R 12-3

This course will examine the different methods and documents that can be used to describe theatrical performances in their historical moments. These documents include the printed script (and the varying relation that it bears to performance), promptbooks, surviving stage and auditorium architecture, various forms of theatre iconography (drawings, photographs, recorded sound and film), and eye-witness accounts (theatre criticism, theatrical autobiography). Test cases will be drawn from British and American performances in several historical periods, including early-modern, and the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. We will also assess the various uses to which documented historical performance can be put, and test the limits of the conclusions that can be drawn about the role of performance in contemporary culture.