Modern and Contemporary Drama

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Fall semester

Modern and Contemporary Drama is a course that examines the development of Western dramatic conventions over the past 150 years. Students will track how playwrights have drawn upon and departed from prior works of drama, and will see how forces such as cultural and political context shaped the theatrical works of those playwrights. In addition to discussing and writing about the works under consideration, students will be expected to take part in performances and creative imitations, discovering how drama needs to be considered on its feet, rather than just from the classroom desk.  Authors may include Chekhov, Strindberg, Ibsen, Brecht, Pinter, Shaw, Beckett, Parks, Smith, Wilson, and Kushner.

Curriculum Map

Unit Essential Questions Habits Of Mind Content Skills and Processes Assessment Resources Multicultural Dimension Integrated Learning
Modern and Contemporary Drama
  • How can we best define the idea of a Modern dramatic tradition?
  • Where might the roots lie?
  • In what ways have these roots been developed, modified, or usurped by later playwrights?
  • In what ways do the texts reflect the historical and cultural contexts in which they are constructed?
  • Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull
  • August Strindberg's Miss Julie
  • Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler and A Doll's House
  • Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and her Children
  • George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man
  • Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Endgame
  • Harold Pinter's Betrayal
  • Tennessee William's Night of the Iguana
  • Suzan Lori-Parks' Topdog/Underdog
  • Anna Deveare Smith's Twilight, Los Angeles: 1992
  • Handouts and selected texts
  • Prepare and present class meetings, both in collaborative groups and as individuals.
  • Apply principles of peer reviewing and metacritical self-review for both content and style
  • Develop critical abilities as readers and patrons of drama
  • Acquire the vocabulary and skills required for literate discussion of drama
  • Active reading
  • Improve skills as writers of critical prose about drama
  • Class note-taking
  • Fine tune guidelines for collaboration in written work and class participation
  • Memorizing text
  • Acting and directing
  • Set and scene design
  • 2 analytical essays, assessed for content and style in individual conference
  • 2 performances, evaluated for memorization, commitment to the style of play at hand, ambition of production, engagement with the material, and cooperation with scene partners
  • Tests emphasize reading comprehension and synthesis
  • Peer reviews
  • Metacritical writing
  • Discussions about critical analysis and persuasive writing
  • Presentations are evaluated for persuasiveness, novelty, unity, ability to involve the entire group, and effectiveness in achieving the student-instructor’s stated goals