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Theatre, History, Cultural I: From the Classical to the Middle Classes

ENGL 087.401
crosslisted as: THAR 101
TR 12-1:30


This course will explore the forms of public performance, most specifically theatre, as they emerge from and reflect the dynamic life of civic and social bodies, chiefly great cities, from classical Athens to roughly the end of the 18th Century.  The course will focus on the development of theatre practice, in both Western and Asian cultures, as it intersects with the history of cities, the rise of market economies, and the emerging forces of national identity.  This course is designed to be broadly interdisciplinary and will view the live theatre event as a nexus of the forms and forces that embody and animate communal and civic life.


Applying an interdisciplinary approach, course readings will be wide-ranging, drawing on political and social history, the history of live theatre practice, including theatre architecture, acting methods, scenic conventions, and dramatic texts, and, where appropriate, the arts as they expressed the essential shared life of specific civic bodies.  In addition to the readings, videos of theatre performance and demonstrations theatrical technique will be shown. Some of the course time will be devoted to lectures, but great emphasis will be placed on class discussion of the material.  Discussion will constitute an interdisciplinary, collective imagining as a unique form of understanding.