E 359 • English Drama from 1660 to 1900
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
In this course we will read plays written and produced in England between 1660 and the early 20th century. The theater reflects and responds to the culture of its time to an unusual degree. So we will examine the plays on the reading list with an eye to several complex matters: the political and historical contexts in which the plays appeared, the regulation of the stage and the publication practices of playwrights, questions of staginge.g., acting, scene design, and costuming, and the belletristic qualities (or lack thereof) of the plays themselves. In an effort to think about the plays as more than purely literary documents, we will read portions of scenes from many of them in class and discuss at length the larger question of what it means to read a play.
Two readings of a scene, 10% each
Two 3-5 papers, 10% each
Mid-term essay, 6-8 pages 20%
Final essay, 6-8 pages 20%
Class participation 20%
For the scene readings, I will ask you and a classmate to read the scene in class, then to lead a discussion of it. I dont expect you to act these scenes out. But I do expect you to know what the characters in the scene are saying (look up words you dont know in the OED), and to be able to talk about what happens in the scene: how it reveals or adds to our knowledge of the individual characters; how it advances or alters the plot; and how it affects our understanding of larger literary concerns we may bring to a reading of the play as a whole.
British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan, ed. G. H. Nettleton and A. E. Case, SIU Press
The Plays of Oscar Wilde, ed. John Lahr, Vintage edition
Bernard Shaws Plays, ed. Warren S. Smith, Norton edition
Speedway packet, containing material by Dryden, Wycherley, Jerrold, Bulwer-Lytton, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Pinero.