Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The City and the Theatre in Western History

ENGL 267.401
TR 1:30-3

Throughout history, great, thriving urban centers have also often been the centers of great theatre cultures.  Cities are themselves grand stages for the performance of public culture, and the theatre serves the city as a form of civic celebration, as a site for the negotiation of competing social forces and individual aspirations, and even as a form of social control. This course will examine the theatre cultures produced by great cities at key historical moments, focussing on fifth-century Athens, Elizabethan London, seventeenth-century Paris, early twentieth-century Berlin, and modern day New York.  The course will examine readings in urban social history, theatre architecture and staging conventions, and acting styles.  Plays will also be read. Readings will be supplemented by slide presentations on art, sculpture, and urban architecture where appropriate.