Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
plan2 masthead
Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2008

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

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43760 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
PAR 310

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 be 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.


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.


bottom border