ENGL 345 Drama
Spring 2005 - TU 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Schedule of Classes | Bulletin Board

Professor Westman
106 English/ Counseling Services; 532-2171
Office Hours: T, U 8:00-9:00 a.m. and by app't
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.
A performance is a spooky, ephemeral thing. Without you, it doesn't exist. When it's over, it's gone. It's never to be repeated in quite the same way again, unlike movies and live-on-tape television that, being frozen in time, are essentially inert.
-- Vincent Canby, New York Times theater critic
Required Texts
Drama: A Pocket Anthology, edited by R.S. Gwynn (Longman)
Sophocles, Antigone, Trans. Richard Braun (Oxford)
Wilder, Three Plays (Harper Perennial)
Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (Signet)
Fugard, Master Harold . . and the Boys (Penguin)
Course Pack #1, #2, #3 (Available at A&S Copy Center in Eisenhower Hall on 1/20/05)

Course Description
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 consider the performance of 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.

Course Objectives

Readings and Class Participation: Any literature course is a reading-intensive experience, so plan accordingly! You are expected to complete each reading assignment before coming to class. You are further expected to think carefully about what you read and to make notes in the text prior to each class meeting. For each class, bring the appropriate book or xeroxes and additionally mark passages that we discuss; this process will help you understand, remember, and review.
This class will be based on discussion, so class participation is expected and will count for 20% of your final grade. "Class participation" is not the same as just showing up and taking notes: you must be an active presence in the class. This grade, then, includes your contributions to our discussions in class (in large and small groups) and to our discussions on the Electronic Bulletin Board. I will expect at least one posting a week from each student on the Electronic Bulletin Board; the guidelines and instructions for using the Bulletin Board appear on a separate handout.

Attendance: Obviously, you can't participate effectively if you aren't in class. Since the University requires that students attend all classes in which they are enrolled, there are no excused absences. If you are absent for more than nine classroom hours -- that is, six (6) class periods -- you will fail this class automatically. If you are absent for more than two, you jeopardize your final grade for the course. Excessive or repeated lateness will also jeopardize your final grade. If you wish to receive a passing grade in this class, then, attendance is very important. Classroom work or homework assignments missed due to absence cannot be made up. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find out from another class member any announcements or assignments.

Quizzes/Response Papers: In most cases, you will have a quiz or a response paper due each day we begin our discussion of a play. Quizzes and response papers are designed to test your knowledge of the reading assignments and the analytical skills we develop and practice during our discussions. The quizzes will consist of identifications and interpretive questions which will help you improve your close reading skills and to evaluate your comprehension of the material; the response papers will be in response to a particular interpretative question. Quizzes and response papers will be graded on a scale of 1 to 5 points: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. I will average the points at the end of the course after dropping the lowest grade. Should you be absent on the day of a quiz or response paper, you will receive a zero, unless the absence is excused.

Papers: You will write only one paper (4-5 pages) in this class, given the other projects you'll be working on. If your paper is late, it will be penalized a full letter grade (i.e.: A to B) for each day it is late. Papers must be typed, double-spaced, with one inch margins (one page = 250 words); the pages should be spell-checked, proof-read, numbered, and stapled or paper-clipped together. Your name, my name, the date, and the type of assignment should appear in the upper-left hand corner of the first page.

A note on sources: a "Works Cited" page should accompany any assignment that refers to outside sources, and you should use the MLA method for documenting sources. 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. The University'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. Otherwise, you have plagiarized. If you have any questions, please ask. If you do plagiarize, you will fail this course.

Performance Review: You will write one performance review. The review will discuss the video-taped performance of one of the plays on our syllabus. Further information will follow shortly.

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

Computing: Technology increasingly plays an important role in our academic and professional careers. Consequently, you will be asked to participate in some different kinds of technology, including an Electronic Bulletin Board discussion and electronic resources for research. Our work with technology is designed not only as another forum for exploring our reading, but as a way for you to sharpen your communication skills, media skills, and web skills for an increasingly technological age.
Electronic Bulletin Board: Beginning the first week of class, I'll establish an electronic bulletin board for our class. Each week, each student is required to post at least one paragraph-length comment about the materials we're studying in class. I will monitor these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness both to our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the list. Your postings do not need to be long; however, they need to be substantive: they must be long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments whenever possible. I will offer models of helpful comments early in the semester. Your grade for these postings will become part of your class participation grade.

Email: I highly recommend email as a way of touching base with me about your work for the class - a kind of virtual office hours. You can send me queries about reading or writing assignments, your thesis statement for an essay, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I check my email in the morning before class, in the afternoon, and in the evening before 10pm.

Examination: You will have a cumulative final exam. A missed exam counts as a zero; no make-up exams will be offered without a dean's excuse.

Conferences: I want you to succeed in this course, and I am happy to meet with you about your work and your progress. I encourage you to see me before writing assignments are due, or if you have questions about material we discuss in class. Please feel free to stop by during office hours (T, U 8:00-9:00 am), or contact me by phone or email to arrange a more convenient time to meet.

Note: If you have any condition such as a physical or learning disability that will make it difficult for you to carry out the work as I have outlined it or which will require academic accommodations, please notify me in the first two days of the course.

Quizzes/Responses 20%
Class Participation 20%
In-class 10%
Postings 10%
Paper 15%
Performance Review 10%
Performance Troupe 15%
Final Exam 20%

Schedule of Classes (Subject to change.)

Note: The full text of the play should be read for the first day of discussion.
[CP1], [CP2], [CP3] = Course Packs.

January U 13
Introduction: Staging a Play
T 18
Gwynn, from "Introduction" (1-20)
Sophocles, Antigone (Quiz/Response #1)
Selected Online Resources for Antigone: "Study Guide Questions," "Selected Resources on Sophocles," "Antigone's Age: How old was Antigone? ," "Ismene - notes for a director or actress," and "Creon: The Importance of Being Persuaded."
U 20
T 25 Gwynn, " Medieval Drama," "Elizabethan Drama," and "The Comic Genres" (20-24); Read Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream [CP1]

Selected Online Resources for A Midsummer Night's Dream:

U 27
February T 1 Midsummer; Performance Troupe #1
U 3
Midsummer; Historical Context for Midsummer [CP2] (Quiz/Response #2)
T 8 Background on Restoration theater [CP3]; Behn, The Rover, Acts I and II [CP3]

Selected online resources for The Rover:

U 10
The Rover, Acts III, IV, and V (Quiz/Response #3)
T 15
The Rover
U 17 The Rover; Performance Troupe #2
T 22
Gwynn, "Realistic Drama, the Modern Stage, and Beyond" (24-25); "Modern Drama" (xeroxed handout); Ibsen's A Doll House (Gwynn 209-277) (Quiz/Response #4)
Selected online resources for A Doll House:
U 24
A Doll House; "Critical Context" readings (xeroxed handout)
March T 1 A Doll House; Performance Troupe #3
U 3
Glaspell, Trifles (Gwynn 278-292) (Quiz/Response #5)
Selected online resources for Trifles: A well-chosen series of links assembled at Web English Teacher on "Susan Glaspell, Trifles."
T 8 Trifles; Glaspell, "A Jury of Her Peers" [CP2]; Working (draft) thesis claim for Paper #1 (1-2 sentences in length)
U 10
Wilder, "Preface" and The Skin of Our Teeth (Quiz/Response #6)
Selected online resources for The Skin of Our Teeth:
M 14 Paper due by 5 p.m. to my mailbox in ECS 119 (4 pages)
T 15
Skin of Our Teeth
U 17 Skin of Our Teeth; Performance Troupe #4
T 22 No Class --
U 24 Spring Break
T 29
David Ives, Sure Thing (Gwynn 521-532); Performance Troupe #5
Selected online resources for Sure Thing:
  • A series of study questions from Longman
  • A production photo from a performance at Burlington County Community College, a photo from a performance by The Drama Group (Philadelphia, PA), and a photo of William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman performing Ives's one-act for the JAI Playwrights Conference (2004).
  • A brief biography of Ives from Bedford/St. Martin's
U 31 No Class -- Work on performance review
April T 5 Researching and drafting the performance review
U 7
Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (Quiz/Response #7)
Selected online resources for A Streetcar Named Desire:
  • A range of resources are available from the page created by the Hippodrome State Theater (Gainesville, FL), "Tennesse Williams, The Playwright," including a biography and links to letters exchanged between Williams and the actress Jessica Tandy (who played Blanche in the NY premiere), discussion topics, and information about the poetic references in the play.
  • The Crossroads project for Streetcar at UVA provides information about and photos from the originial Broadway production, the original film production, and other productions, as well as links to information about Willliams and Streetcar.
  • A web page on Williams' play, assembled by two instructors, includes a definition of expressionism, detailed study questions, an image of the Van Gogh painting Williams refers to in his stage directions. (Try the Internet Archive version of this page, if it does not load.)
  • A discussion of the stage design for a recent production of Streetcar in Washington, D.C.
  • A link to the transcript of a PBS discussion of the play in honor of its 50th anniversary.
  • The New York Times theater review (4 Dec 1947) of the play's opening performance (notable for what is left unsaid about Williams' themes).
  • A review of a production in London at the Footlight Club in 2003 which praises the actress for her interpretation of Blanche.
  • A review of a production in Croatia includes two production photos showing the stage design as well as indicating the global reach of Williams' play.
  • Some production photos from a performance which emphasized the role of light in its staging and interpretation of the play.
  • Some interesting cultural history about the play's creation and its most famous productions, as well as information about the Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest that takes place each spring in New Orleans.
T 12
U 14 Streetcar
F 15 Performance Review due by 5 p.m. to my mailbox in ECS 119 (For guidance for citing sources -- especially online resources -- see "Humanities: Documenting Sources.")
T 19
Wilson, Fences (Quiz/Response #8)
Selected online resources for Fences:
  • A detailed biography of Wilson with information about his plays.
  • A biography compiled by Dartmouth College in honor of Wilson's visit there in 1998.
  • The Arden Theater (Philadephia, PA) has a number of resources to supplement their current production of Fences: a discussion of Wilson's play cycle, of which Fences is a part; a study guide; and a link to production photos.
  • Dr. Sharon Sellers provides a series of discussion questions by character and themes. (Link courtesy of the Internet Archive.)
  • Professor Bill Dynes' "Fences" page has discussion questions and links to information about the Negro League.
  • View the art of Romare Bearden (1912-1988), whom Wilson has cited as an influence on his own art: "Family" (1988), "Home Time" (1970), "Roots Odyssey" (1976), "Alto Composite" (1974), and "Piano Lesson" (1983), as well as a photo of Bearden.
  • View archival photos of African Americans during WWII, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
  • Production photos from a production by the Curious Theater Company in 2001.
  • Information about a current production of Fences at the Port City Playhouse (Alexandria, VA), which includes links to reviews of the performance. Note, too, the image they've chosen to advertise and represent the play.
  • Production photos from a production of Fences in 2003 by Michigan State University Theater. Note the image they have selected to advertise and present the play.
U 21 Fences; Historical and cultural context readings (xerox)
T 26
U 28
Fugard, "Master Harold"...and the Boys (Quiz/Response #9)
Selected online resources for "Master Harold"...and the Boys:
  • Professor Paul Brians' excellent Study Guide for Fugard's play.
  • A web site on Athol Fugard, with links to information about his life and his plays.
  • A brief biography, with links to two interviews with Fugard.
  • A brief history of apartheid in South Africa.
  • View a production photo and publicity poster for a production at the Silver Spring Stage in 2004.
  • A review of a production from 2004 at the Salisbury Playhouse (UK) offers a production photo of the three actors and the stage set.
  • View a series of production photos from a performance at West Virginia Wesleyan College from 2001, including photos of the set design.
  • A photo of Fugard at London's National Theater shows in the background an early poster for the play, which features a photo of Fugard as a young man.
May T 3
"Master Harold"...and the Boys
U 5
Review for Final Exam
W 11
Final Exam: Short Answer and Essay, 2:00-3:50 p.m.

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Last updated 28 April 2005