Course: The Western Dramatic Tradition

The focus of this course is dramatic literature from antiquity to the present. We will begin by looking at the ritual origins of Western drama, with a focus on the Theater of Dionysus in ancient Greece and the tragedies and comedies emerging out of that tradition, including the work of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. We will then move to Medieval and Renaissance England, followed by Early Modern and Modern Europe. We will close out the semester by looking at contemporary dramatic literature and performance in the Americas. Throughout, we will also engage theory and criticism, with a focus on the material conditions in which acts of performance are staged, including the politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will also interrogate the politics of historicization and canonization itself, looking at the ways in which certain texts are included and excluded from the historical record of theater history, as well as the related notion of "the Western" dramatic tradition.