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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2003

T C 357 • The Stage, The Empire, The East: Orientalism and Imperialism-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
40680 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
PAR 308

Course Description

Edward Said's notorious remark that the East is the stage on which the West stages its worst fears is usually taken as a metaphorical self-indulgence. In so much recent literary theory the stage is used as a fictive construct for the aesthetic and ideological events of other genres and media. This course will engage the metaphorical insufficiency of Said's pronouncement precisely by taking it literally. The course will take on the theatrical productions of the later nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries in particular which figure the East in a pronounced way. These plays take up the matters of ethnicity, region, language, gender and sexuality in a markedly "Orientalist" context. Perhaps we shall not only reveal what is being done with the imperial ideologies and experiences of this century-long critical moment but also assess how great a role the theatre played in this process. Did the stage transform or merely serve and reflect the age of the grand narrative of nationalism and empire, a period which matches exactly the moment when modern drama is itself being invented? To focus the course's range more exactly we shall look especially at figurations of India, North Africa, Eastern Europe/Jewish Diaspora, and Japan. We shall conclude with a reply from the East back to the "West." The course will serve a three-fold purpose: 1) an introduction to some of the major European playwrights of this critical one-hundred years of dramatic self-definition and innovation; 2) an introduction to colonial and post-colonial critiques of late nineteenth and early twentieth century theatre; 3) and an introduction to performance theory with special focus on identity, audience and venue as constitutive of a performance's meaning and impact. The course will finally encourage us to think about some of the possibilities for texts that reply to Europe and take the debate the next stage from imposition to reciprocal dialogue.

About the professor: Elizabeth Richmond-Garza is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Program in Comparative Literature. Trained in Greek aesthetics as well as modern literary theory at UC Berkeley, Oxford and Columbia, she is fluent in eight languages. She works on Orientalism, the Gothic, Cleopatra, Oscar Wilde, and European drama, and is currently finishing a study of decadent culture at the ends of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Professor Richmond-Garza uses a creative, multi-media approach to teaching and recently was awarded both the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award and the 16th Annual Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship for undergraduate teaching in 2002.

Grading Policy

Two short essays (25%+25%) and one longer one (35%) and a twenty-minute oral report (15%). All on topics of the student's choice emerging from the material of the course.


Euripedes, Medea and The Bacchae; Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello; Gilbert and Sullivan, The Mikado; Lewis, The Bells; Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra; Gregory, The Deliverer; Yeats, Purgatory; Wilde, Vera, or The Nihilists, and Salomé; Verdi, Aïda; Gozzi, Turandot; Puccini, Mme. Butterfly, Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle; Osborne, The Entertainer; Genet, The Blacks; Artaud, "The Conquest of Mexico"; Bond, The Narrow Road to the Deep North; Churchill, Cloud Nine; Fugard, Bloodknot; Soyinka, The Bacchae of Euripedes; Currimbhoy, Darjeeling Tea?; Kureishi, Borderline and Outskirts; Wong, M. Butterfly; Guerney, Far East. Critical selections on modern performance theory and postcolonial theory


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