Module Document Q3004 Modern and Postmodern Drama Autumn

Module Document
Q3004 Modern and Postmodern Drama
Autumn 2012
Convenor: Dr William McEvoy
Tutor: Dr William McEvoy
[email protected]
Module description
This module explores the shift from naturalism to modernist and postmodernist
theatre from the late nineteenth to the twenty first century. It examines a number of
plays that trace the evolution of drama over the period, demonstrating differences in
modes of representation, characterisation, structure and form. We will examine how
the plays engage with theoretical, philosophical and aesthetic issues, as well as the
development of self-reflexivity about drama as a medium, concerning the function,
limits and impact of theatre and performance as art form, social intervention and
cultural expression. A range of themes will emerge such as the changing role of the
family, gender and sexuality, class, power, desire and loss. You will study a different
play each week and give a short presentation in one of the seminars. This course is
roughly chronological. It begins with naturalism and realism with major texts by
Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov. It then examines modernism and the theatre of the
absurd before charting the transition to postmodernism via Beckett to culminate in
work by Complicite and Caryl Churchill.
Module Aims
 To gain knowledge of major currents in twentieth century theatre by analyzing
a range of key texts and theatrical movements
To reflect on the links between theatre, performance and wider social,
historical and cultural shifts in the period during and after Naturalism
To develop critical methods for analyzing theatre texts in relation to writing,
representation and performance
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this module, the successful student will have:
Reflected on and analyzed the relationship between a range of theatre texts
and their aesthetic, cultural and social contexts by exploring key concepts
such as naturalism, modernism and postmodernism
Developed a critical vocabulary for analyzing theatre texts and contexts
through research, structured arguments and close readings
Evaluated the ways in which theatre texts can be related to each other and to
the processes of reading, writing, performance and reception
Teaching and Learning Modes
One two hour seminar per week
Presentations (10 mins maximum) by student during weekly seminar
5 hours independent study per week
Modes of assessment
Essay 1: (1500 words) 40%
Essay 2: (2000 words) 60%
Assessment submission deadlines
Essay 1: see Sussex Direct
Essay 2: see Sussex Direct
Assessment criteria
Essays 1 and 2
 Clear and appropriate structure
 Contextualized and substantiated argument
 Use of appropriate conceptual frameworks
 Critical analysis of texts
 Appropriate original ideas and insights
 Appropriate use of examples and evidence
 Evidence of appropriate reading and research
 Accurate referencing according to standard form
 Clear, lucid expression
 Accurate spelling, punctuation and syntax
 Accurate bibliography
Module Outline and Select Reading List
Please use the following reading list as a guide. There are obviously many more
works published on all the authors. Use the library catalogue to explore further
Reviews of major productions of the plays can also be an invaluable resource.
Reviews from UK newspapers and magazines can be accessed via the library’s
electronic resources database Nexis.
Week 1: Introducing the course - What is Naturalism?
Week 2: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House [1879], tr. Meyer (London: Methuen,
Christopher Innes, A Sourcebook on Naturalist Theatre (London: Routledge,
James McFarlane, The Cambridge Companion to Ibsen (Cambridge: CUP, 1994).
Michael Pennington and Stephen Unwin, A Pocket Guide to Ibsen, Chekhov,
Strindberg (London: Faber, 2004).
Joan Templeton, Ibsen’s Women (Cambridge: CUP, 1997).
Raymond Williams, Drama from Ibsen to Brecht (London: Chatto, 1968).
Week 3: August Strindberg, Miss Julie [1888] in Miss Julie and Other Plays, tr.
Robinson (Oxford: OUP, 1998)
Michael Pennington and Stephen Unwin, A Pocket Guide to Ibsen, Chekhov,
Strindberg (London: Faber, 2004), pp. 206-254.
Evert Sprinchorn, Strindberg as Dramatist. (Newhaven: Yale UP, 1982).
Raymond Williams, Drama from Ibsen to Brecht. (London: Chatto, 1968).
Week 4: Anton Chekhov, The Seagull [1895] tr. Frayn (London: Penguin, 2002)
David Allen, Performing Chekhov (London: Routledge, 2000).
Vera Gottlieb, The Cambridge Companion to Chekhov (Cambridge: CUP, 2000).
Christopher Innes, A Sourcebook on Naturalist Theatre (London: Routledge 2000)
Michael Pennington and Stephen Unwin, A Pocket Guide to Ibsen, Chekhov,
Strindberg. London: Faber and Faber, 2004), pp. 121-202.
Week 5: Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author [1921] tr.
Mulrine (London: Nick Hern, 2003)
Susan Bassnett-McGuire, Luigi Pirandello (London: Macmillan, 1983).
Gian Paolo Biasin (ed.), Luigi Pirandello: Contemporary Perspectives (Toronto:
University of Toronto Press, 1999).
Caesar Ann Hallamore, Characters and Authors in Luigi Pirandello (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1998).
Week 6: Ionesco, The Chairs [1952], tr. Crimp (London: Faber, 1997)
Enoch Brater and Ruby Cohn (eds.), Around the Absurd, Essays on Modern and
Postmodern Drama (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1990).
Martin Esslin, (1961, or any edition), The Theatre of the Absurd (Anchor: New York,
Week 7: Reading Week
Week 8: Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot [1952] (London: Faber, 2006)
Peter Boxall, Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot/Endgame (Duxford: Icon, 2000)
Jonathan Kalb, Beckett in Performance (Cambridge: CUP, 1989).
Dougald McMillan and Martha Fehsenfeld, Beckett in the Theatre, vol. one: From
Waiting for Godot to Krapp's Last Tape (London: Calder, 1988).
John Pilling, The Cambridge Companion to Beckett (Cambridge: CUP, 1994).
Week 9: Harold Pinter, Betrayal [1978] (London: Faber)
Silvio Gaggi, ‘Pinter’s Betrayal: Problems of Language or Grand Metatheatre?’,
Theatre Journal, 33, 4 (1981), pp. 504-516.
Week 10: Churchill, Blue Heart [1997], (London: Nick Hern Books, 1997)
Elaine Aston, Caryl Churchill (London: Northcote House, 2001)
Week 11: Complicite, Mnemonic [1999], (London: Methuen, 2003)
Helen Freshwater, ‘The Ethics of Indeterminacy. Theatre de Complicite’s Mnemonic’,
New Theatre Quarterly, 17, 3 (2001), pp. 212-18.
Janelle Reinelt, ‘Performing Europe. Identity Formation for a New Europe’ Theatre
Journal, 53, 3 (2001), pp. 365-87.
Week 12: Small Group Essay consultation