Studies in Drama

Taking as its starting point the works of one of today’s most respected, prolific—and funny— dramatists, this seminar will explore a wide range of knowledge in fields such as math, philosophy, politics, history, and art. The careful reading and discussion of plays by (Sir) Tom Stoppard and some of his most compelling contemporaries (including Caryl Churchill, Howard Barker, Tony Kushner, and Anna Deveare Smith) will allow us to time-travel and explore other cultures. Some will report on earlier plays that influenced these writers, others will research everything from Dadaism to the poetry of Lord Byron, from seventeenth-century antiquarianism to 1970s feminism, from the Battle of Lepanto to the bridges of Konigsberg. Employing a variety of critical approaches (both theoretical and theatrical) we will consider what post-modernity means, as applied to these plays. In the process, we will analyze how drama connects with both the culture it represents and that which it addresses in performance. We will also consider the wit and verbal energy of these contemporary writers…not to mention how Fermat’s theorem, futures trading, and chaos theory become the stuff of stage comedy.