Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Modern Drama Since WWI

ENGL 077.401
instructor(s):
MWF 11

This course will investigate the development of European Drama since World War I, including influential English, American, French, German, and Russian plays (the latter in translation). While we will spend most of our time reading the plays themselves (both as literary texts and as texts-to-be-performed-on-stage), we will also consider theoretical questions _about_ drama, the theater, and acting. These questions will focus on the changing possibilities and limits of the genre itself, the political implications and motivations of various dramatic techniques, the role of the avant-garde in 20th century theater, the shifting nature and role of the audience, and the interface between drama and opera/musical/film. Naturally, we will take least one excursion to a live performance either in Philadelphia or in New York, and we will watch several videotaped performances. Readings will include plays by Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, Bertolt Brecht, Artaud, Ionesco, Sartre, Bulgakov, and Shepherd; theoretical supplements will include short essays by Brecht, Walter Benjamin, and Peter Szondi. Prospective students are welcome to email me with any questions they may have.