English 221 offers a wide-ranging survey of Shakespeare's dramatic art through attention to a series of plays written and performed over the length of his career. Special attention is paid to Shakespeare's experimentation in a variety of forms and genres; Shakespearean language and the nature of dramatic text; the plays as dramaturgical structures and scripts for performance; the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre and audience; and the history of the plays in criticism and performance, with some attention a lso to their realization in film.
The course offers a comparative study of theory and practice in a group of prominent modern dramatists. Most writers for the theatre simply go about writing plays by pursuing their craft, but some have tried to thikn conceptually and systematically about dramatugy and its contexts and have attempted to theorize about the way their plays address subject matter, implicate audiences, and engage with the society and culture from which these audiences emerge. Other dramatists, if not "systematic" about such matters, have nonetheless commented dramatists may have seen to "theorize" in the very way they write plays.
The following plays will be studied: Ibsen, Peer Gynt, A Doll House, Hedda Gabler, The Wild Duck; Stringberg, Miss Julie, The Father, The Ghost Sonata, A Dream Play; Chekvov, The Sea Gull, The Cherry Orchard; Shaw, Arms and the Man, Man and Superman, Major Barbara; Yeats, On Baile's Strand, The Only Jealousy of Emer, Purgatory, The Death of Cuchullain; Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV; Brecht, Mother Courage, Life of Galileo; Miller, Death of a Salesman, All My Sons; Churchill, Cloud 9, Top Girls.
Normally two plays will be assigned for each class meeting, one designated as "Primary" and other as "Background." These designations are not intended to put the plays in some kind of rank order but to indicate where the primary focus of the class will be placed.
Additional attention will be given to essays, letters, and other writings by and about the dramatists in question and to writings about drama and theatre by such important theorists and practitioners as Appia, Artaud, Brandes, Brook, Craig, Hauser, Luckacs, Nietzsche, Rolland, Simonson, Stanislavsky, Steiner, Symons, de Tocqueville, Wagner, and Zola, among others.