Studies in Drama

Prereq: none
3-0-9, HASS-H, CI-M

Working outwards from the plays of two of Britain’s most respected, prolific—and funny—living dramatists, this seminar will explore a wide range of knowledge in fields such as mathematics, philosophy, politics, history, genetics, and art…as well as, of course, literature and theater. Our focal texts will be plays by (Sir) Tom Stoppard and his compelling contemporaries, including Howard Barker and (especially) Caryl Churchill. To illuminate them, some students will report on earlier plays by Shakespeare, Ford, Wilde, and Beckett; others will explore topics ranging from the poetry of Lord Byron to Dadaism to Pink Floyd, from the Battle of Lepanto to the bridges of Konigsberg, and from Czechoslovakian dissidents to feminist theater
collectives.

We will uncover the societal and theatrical contexts informing these postmodern plays, and consider different critical approaches to them. In the process, we will
analyze drama as performance—a distinctive art form within a rapidly changing media landscape. We will also celebrate the wit and verbal energy of these
contemporary writers…not to mention, how Fermat’s theorem, futures trading, Latin translation, and chaos theory can become the stuff of stage comedy. Plays will
include Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Top Girls, The Real Thing, Arcadia, Serious Money, A Number, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.