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Drama 281 Dead Poets Society: Theatre History and Literature I, Greeks to

Professor: Gregory Kable
Section 001: Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 9:00 9:50 am
Center for Dramatic Art 105
Overview: This class offers a survey of Western dramatic writing and theatre practice from its
origins in Ancient Greece to 1700. We will analyze texts, screen videos, engage in critical writing
and thinking, and explore performance, all of which are intended to enhance your understanding
and appreciation of seminal periods in theatre history. While our treatment is necessarily selective
rather than comprehensive, we will attempt a reasonable amount of depth in the course of our
journey. We will consider plays in terms of both text and performance: that is, as literature or
cultural artifacts, but also as blueprints for action in the theatre. Each work we study is remarkably
different, and will give you a variety of perspectives on theater through the end of the seventeenth
century. Approach them all with an open mind and an open heart, and welcome to the class.
Objectives: By the end of this course you will be able to:
* Understand historical developments in formative periods of Western drama.
* Recognize the basic styles and dramaturgy of these periods.
* Distinguish among movements in Classical Greece and Rome, the Medieval era, the English,
Spanish and French Renaissance, and the English Restoration.
* Identify the contributions of a range of core playwrights and theatre artists.
* Explain some of the social, cultural, and political influences on drama and theatre prior to the
eighteenth century.
Required Texts: Editions and availability will be discussed at the first class meeting.
Supplementary Readings will be made available on the course Sakai site.
Required Department of Dramatic Art Privilege Card: In addition to the class work, you will be
required to attend the three Mainstage productions of PlayMakers Repertory Company premiering
over the course of the term. The DDA Privilege Card grants you admission at the lowest possible
cost. Details will be presented in class.
Aug 20. Brush Up Your Shakespeare: Introductions and Course Outline
Aug 22. A Class on Classicism
Aug 25. Greek Tragedy: Aeschyluss Oresteia: Agamemnon + Supplementary Reading: Fuchs
Aug 27. Agamemnon (cont.)
Aug 29. Agamemnon (cont.)
Sept 1. [No classLabor Day Holiday]
Sept 3. Oresteia: The Libation Bearers + Supplementary Reading: Wertenbaker
Sept 5. The Libation Bearers (cont.) + Essay # 1 Assigned
Sept 8. Oresteia: The Furies + Supplementary Reading: Teevan
Sept 10. The Furies (cont.)
Sept 12. The Furies (cont.)

Sept 15. Sophocless Philoctetes

Sept 17. Philoctetes (cont.) + PANEL # 1
Sept 19. Philoctetes (cont.) + Essay # 1 Due
Sept 22. Euripidess Bacchae
Sept 24. Bacchae (cont.) + PANEL # 2
Sept 26. Bacchae (cont.)
Sept 29. Greek Comedy: Aristophanes The Frogs
Oct 1. The Frogs (cont.) + PANEL # 3
Oct 3. The Frogs (cont.)
Oct 6. Roman Interlude
Oct 8. Medieval Theatre: Anonymous, Everyman
Oct 10. Everyman (cont.) + PANEL # 4
Oct 13. Medieval Theatre: Anonymous, The Second Shepherds Play
Oct 15. The Second Shepherds Play (cont.) + Essay # 2 Assigned
Fall recess.
Oct 20. English Renaissance Theatre: Christopher Marlowes Doctor Faustus
Oct 22. Doctor Faustus (cont.) + PANEL # 5
Oct 24. Doctor Faustus (cont.)
Oct 27. Jacobean/Caroline Tragedy: John Fords Tis Pity Shes a Whore
Oct 29. Tis Pity Shes a Whore (cont.) + PANEL # 6
Oct 31. Tis Pity Shes a Whore (cont.) + Essay # 2 Due
Nov 3. The Spanish Golden Age: Calderons Life is a Dream
Nov 5. Life is a Dream (cont.) + PANEL # 7
Nov 7. Life is a Dream (cont.)
Nov 10. French Neoclassicism: Molieres Tartuffe
Nov 12. Tartuffe (cont.) + PANEL # 8
Nov 14. Tartuffe (cont.)
Nov 17. Neoclassical Tragedy: Jean Racines Phaedra
Nov 19. Phaedra (cont.) + PANEL # 9
Nov 21. Phaedra (cont.)
Nov 24. English Restoration Comedy: William Wycherleys The Country Wife
Thanksgiving recess.
Dec 1. The Country Wife (cont.) + PANEL # 10
Dec 3. The Country Wife (cont.) and Course Conclusions
Final Exam: Saturday December 6th at 8:00 am.

Commitment: The reading load for this class is 14 plays in 16 weeks in addition to a moderate
number of supplementary essays. Dont be daunted and dont ever grow discouraged. Some of the
plays are short, some read swiftly despite their length and, yes, some may remain alien and
frustrating throughout. The readings are reasonably paced, taking the realities of your many
obligations into account; still, allowing yourself to fall behind could quickly prove overwhelming.
Grant yourself the time to keep up with the syllabus. This is not only a necessity for the nature of
the class work, but without your contributions in having completed the reading, its likely our
meetings will drive you insane.
Attendance: To be a member of this class, you must be a member of this class, meaning class
attendance is mandatory. While the discussions and the readings are designed to be complementary,
neither is intended as a substitute for the other. The cumulative nature of the course will assume
a familiarity with both. Excused absences must be excused in advance, and only ONE documented
absence will be considered for the entirety of the term.
Requirements: Students are expected to complete readings and assignments on time. You are
responsible for all material covered in class, regardless of whether you are present (this includes any
changes related to the syllabus, scheduling or assignments). The writing deadlines are absolute: no
late work will be accepted, and no changes in exam schedules will be permitted. Since we will read
selections from the texts, please bring your current play to class.
Assignments: The following comprise the course assignments:

Attendance and Participation. Attendance is expected for a core course within the major
curriculum. Attendance on its own is a neutral grading element (meaning it does not actively
contribute to your course average, but negatively impacts standing in the case of absences).
Participation is weighed independently and assessed on both the frequency and quality of
your contributions. Students are expected to be present and active contributors at all class
meetings. This policy is not intended as a hardship but as facilitating your success in the

A Panel Reading of a prepared scene with dramaturgical context and a 1-page process

Two Essays of 4 pages in length on assigned topics related to readings and class discussion.
Essays will be assigned at regular intervals throughout the semester, with prompts posted to
the course website.

A Final Exam in Essay format will cover major points of both the readings and discussions.
The Prompt will be made available near the end of the term.

Written Work: All submitted assignments must be typed. You must retain a file copy of each of your
submitted assignments in case of accident. Assignments must be well written and will be graded on
style as well as content.
Grading: Assignments are graded on the following standardized ten-point grading scale:
A =94-100 B+ =87-89 B- =80-82 C =73-76 D+ =67-69 F =00-59
A- =90-93
B =83-86 C+ =77-79 C- =70-72 D =60=66

Course distribution will closely adhere to the following:

Essay # 1 25%

Essay # 2 25%

Panel Reading 15%

Final Exam 25%

The remaining 10% of your Course Grade will be determined by Attendance and Participation.
Absentee Deductions: 3 quality points are deducted from the semester average for every unexcused
Participation Weights: No to low participation = 0 pts.; Average participation = 5 pts.; Excellent
participation = 10 pts.
Please note that class participation will have a significant impact on your final grade.
Honor Code: The Honor Code is in effect in this class and all others at the University. I am
committed to treating Honor Code violations seriously and urge all students to become familiar with
its terms set out at If you have questions, it is your responsibility to ask
me about the Codes application. All exams, written work, and other projects must be submitted
with a statement that you have complied with the requirements of the Honor Code in all aspects
of the submitted work.
Where to Find Help: Professor Kables office, Center for Dramatic Art - room 215. Office hours are
an excellent opportunity to clarify issues, discuss assignments, or simply meet and chat. See me in
class, leave a note in my mailbox on the second floor of the CDA, or contact me via email at