E245 – World Drama

Credit Hours:
3

Course Level:
Undergraduate

Semesters Offered:
Fall Spring

Description: Description: The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to some versions of theater around the world in various time periods. It is not a comprehensive survey of world theater, but rather a sampling which will acquaint the student with the study of theater in its cultural contexts. The first half of the course looks at theater from past historical periods and acquaints the student with issues of theater historiography. We will explore how theater reflects the social, political, philosophical, and economic structures of its society. The second half of the course examines some examples of contemporary theater from around the world, and explores issues of intercultural borrowings and appropriations, historical revisioning, and cultural production.

As an approved course in the III-E Global and Cultural Awareness category of the All University Core Curriculum, E 245 engages in the study of particular cultural identities by looking at several distinct theater and drama traditions in their historical and cultural specificities: Classical Greek, Japanese, Chinese, African, and Indian. The course will explore the interactions among these cultural identities by looking at some of the ways that later playwrights, in cross historical and cultural modes, take up and rework earlier plays. For example students can compare Euripides’s Bacchae in its original cultural context with Soyinka’s rewriting of it to explore issues of power and corruption in post-colonial Africa, as well as the performance piece A Mouthful of Birds, loosely based on the Bacchae, which radically questions gender identity. Students will also explore various forms and modes of cultural interactions (intercultural borrowings and appropriations, colonization and post-colonial theory, trans-cultural and intercultural drama). As students learn about other cultural traditions and perspectives, they will also become aware of their own cultural perspectives. The course will expose students to distinct cultures, and at the same time challenge them to interrogate what we mean by “culture” and to question notions of “distinct cultural identities” and “cultural purity” in our increasingly globalized economy. The course will also sharpen students’ ability to articulate, both verbally and in writing, their understandings of cultural issues, and to refine their skills in critical thinking.