English 105W, Summer Session 1

Professor Karin Westman
MTWRF 10:10 am - 12:00 noon
Office: 425 Benson, 322-2328


[P]lays like mine...aim at making the reader or spectator feel that during the reading or performance he is actually experiencing a piece of real life...
Henrik Ibsen


When you watch movies you are so wrapped in the dark that you can be persuaded to believe almost any nonsense. It's part of the fun of movies.... Live theatre is something very different. There is all that light coming from the stage. You are never unaware of surrounding members of the audience, or of the fact that you are observing actors impersonate other people. The result is that you develop bifocal vision, which allows you to appreciate both the fiction taking place on the stage and the skills of the people making it possible.
Vincent Canby, New York Times theater critic


This course will explore how authors' dramatic forms and techniques allow their audiences to re-experience the world around them. As we read, discuss, write about, and perform their plays, we will investigate how each play accomplishes its task through the cultural language of dialogue, props, costumes, theatrical tradition, and the relationship between actors and audience. As a writing course, the goal of this class is to develop critical skills for reading and writing about texts, particularly dramatic literature. We will talk about writing in class, through peer reviews, and individually in conference.

Required Texts

"Fight The Powers That Be"

Sophocles, Antigone

Ibsen, A Doll House

A Society of Substance or Style?: "In matters of great importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing"

Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oscar Wilde)

Congreve, Love For Love

Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Back to the Future

Beckett, Waiting For Godot

Chekhov, Three Sisters

Wilder, Skin of Our Teeth

Politics of Self and Society

Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Fugard, "Master Harold"...And the Boys


Hacker, The Bedford Handbook For Writers, 5th ed.



During the next four weeks, you will write four papers of varying lengths; you will revise the first and second of these papers. The papers will be based upon the material we read in class. Upon consultation with me, you may also choose to revise any paper for which you receive lower than a "C" grade. The grade for revisions will be counted as another paper grade, not substituted for or averaged with the grade received for the original paper.

Papers must be typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins, with the pages numbered as well as stapled or paper-clipped together, spell-checked and proof-read. If you are handing in a revision, you must include the first, marked version of your paper. Papers are due at class time on the dates listed on the syllabus. Late papers will be penalized one grade increment (e.g., B+ to B) for each day late.

When you turn in a paper, you pledge that the work is your own and that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources. Vanderbilt's Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. If you quote, paraphrase or use another's ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. The Bedford Handbook For Writers provides guidelines for documentation, and please ask if you have any questions.

Response Papers

A response paper for each play will be due the class day we begin our discussion. Response papers are intended to help to prepare you for class discussion, improve your writing, and generate ideas for longer papers. For your response paper, select a short passage (no more than 2-3 sentences), or even a phrase from the play; type your selection out in full, and then write a commentary in which you aim to articulate why your selection strikes you as important or significant to your reading of the play. In other words, use your selection to explore the play's theme(s) and form. Your response should not be a summary of the play's action; instead, you should discuss a critical aspect of the play which interested or perplexed you. These short papers should be no less than one and no more than two double-spaced, typed pages.

During the four weeks, you must also write one performance review; you may write more for extra credit (.5 points each) towards your response paper grade. Reviews can discuss plays performed in the Nashville area, or videotaped screenings of the plays on our syllabus; they should be no less than one and no more than two double-spaced, typed pages. Dates for evening screenings will be announced throughout as soon as possible.

Class Participation

Attendance and class participation are required. More than two unexcused absences will be reflected in your final grade for the course. Each absence over the allotted unexcused absences will lower final grade by one grade increment (e.g., B to B-).

You are expected to have read and to be prepared to discuss the readings assigned for each class session. Your class participation grade will be determined by your ability to engage in productive class discussion and by your preparation for class readings. You must be present and be an active presence in class discussion and peer review groups.

Any in-class quizzes will be part of your class participation grade.

Production Troupes

By the end of the first week, I will divide the class into production troupes. Troupes work together to perform a scene (or scenes) from a play on the syllabus (about 10-15 minutes of performance). You will meet outside of class with your troupe and with me to prepare for your roles as directors, costumers, and actors. The troupe's in-class performance of their scene(s) as well as a written production review (details following the syllabus) will count towards your final grade for the course.

Garland Lab Sessions

Over the course of the semester we will meet about six times in the Garland Microcomputer Lab, where you will participate in various activities using the Daedalus Integrated Writing Program (DIWE). These sessions are designed to improve your writing skills and communication skills, especially for an increasingly technological world.


You will all meet with me individually after the first and third papers, but I am always available for conferences. Please feel free to stop by during Office Hours (M, W 1:00 - 2:00 pm), or to arrange a more convenient time to meet.

Response Papers
Production Troupe Work
Class Participation
Final Exam

Schedule of Assignments

(subject to change)

June T 2 Staging a Play: Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants"

W 3 Antigone (Response/1st Paper Due)


F 5 No Class: Work on Revision of 1st Paper & Read Ahead

M 8 A Doll House (Response Due); Revision of 1st Paper Due (3pp); MEET IN GARLAND COMPUTER LAB

T 9 A Doll House

W 10 A Midsummer Night's Dream (Response/2nd Paper Due)


F 12 Midsummer

M 15 Writing Workshop: Draft of 2nd Paper Due (5pp, 3 copies); MEET IN GARLAND COMPUTER LAB

T 16 Love for Love (Response Due)

W 17 Love for Love

R 18 Love for Love and The Importance of Being Earnest (Response Due); MEET IN GARLAND COMPUTER LAB

F 19 Importance; Revision of 2nd Paper Due

M 22 Waiting for Godot (Response Due)

T 23 Three Sisters (Response Due)

W 24 Three Sisters; 3rd Paper Due (5pp)

R 25 Skin of Our Teeth (Response Due); MEET IN GARLAND COMPUTER LAB

F 26 Skin of Our Teeth

M 29 A Streetcar Named Desire (Response Due); MEET IN GARLAND COMPUTER LAB

T 30 Streetcar; 4th Paper Due (7 pp)

July W 1 "Master Harold"...and the Boys (Response Due)

Thursday, July 2nd: Final Exam
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Last updated 1 June 1998.