EH 394 Contemporary Drama: Plays of Cultural Critique and Social Change
Klein, TTH 12:30-1:50
*Leadership Studies Designated Course
What is the relationship between theatre and social change? Augusto Boal called theatre “the
rehearsal for the revolution,” but over the last half-century American theatre has been repeatedly
proclaimed a dead art. In this seminar-style course we will take the pulse of today’s American
theatre scene as we explore trends in social and political drama with special attention to the last
In order to understand how theatre can react to, reflect, and challenge sociopolitical conditions
we will read plays by Lorraine Hansberry, Edward Albee, Luis Valdez, Ntozake Shange, Wendy
Wasserstein, Anna Deavere Smith, Tony Kushner, Moises Kaufman, Suzan-Lori Parks and
others. After a brief introduction to the formal features and genre conventions of the American
drama, our class work will focus on close literary analysis, scene readings and critical
Students will also write several short responses, a take-home midterm essay and one final
research paper. Depending on the thematic interests of the class and local production schedules,
we will choose at least one play to attend as a group. By studying both canonical and radical,
vanguard theatres of the U.S., we will interrogate the most influential formal conventions of
contemporary American drama while simultaneously piecing together a counter-narrative of
experimentation. Ultimately, this framework will allow us to address larger questions about the
role of art in times of social and political unrest.
EH 400: Studies in Culture and Text--
Forests and Gardens; or Journeys and Destinations
McInturff, MWF 11:00-12:00
For this spring term we will take as our topic the complex relationship between literature and the
natural world- especially in the representation of forests and gardens. As our subtitle suggests,
we will range freely over a wide array of places, offering a general outline for our study. We will
have some key readings and theories, grounding our work in some shared essentials. In addition
to these readings, each participant will select some texts and theories as their own special focus
to bring to our conversations.
Typically, we will function as a seminar of well-informed participants. Some presentations may
be formal, but much of our time will be spent in dialogue and interchange. Each student will
work toward a long and sophisticated written response to a text (broadly defined) or a theory.
Over the course of the term, some other written work will be assigned in conjunction with our
shared work and the student’s individual topics.
Our readings will be diverse. We will begin with some key episodes in
texts. We will go on to foundational texts ranging from Dante and Milton to Wordsworth and T.
S. Eliot and contemporary perspectives. Our theoretical texts will be equally diverse and