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

David Kornhaber

Assistant Professor Ph.D., 2009, Columbia University

David Kornhaber



David Kornhaber is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin.  He is currently completing a manuscript entitled The Birth of Theatre from the Spirit of Philosophy: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Development of the Modern Drama.  His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Theatre JournalModern DramaTheatre Research International, and Philosophy and Literature, among other journals.  He has served as Assistant Editor of Theatre Survey (2006-2008), as an Affiliated Writer with American Theatre (2005-2008), and as a contributor to the theatre sections of The New York Times and The Village Voice.  He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and his A.B. from Harvard College.


Modern and contemporary drama; intersections of theatre and philosophy; critical theory; modernism and the avant-garde

T C 302 • Theories Of The Theatre

42365 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm CAL 221
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Description: Theatre is one of the oldest artistries in the Western tradition, yet through the centuries there has been little agreement as to its nature and purpose as an artistic form or social practice. In this course, we will take a broad look at the ways in which philosophers, playwrights, directors and many others have tried to formulate theories of what it means, for the individual and for society, to write, produce, or attend a play—as well as plays that writers have crafted to reflect the viewpoints of each theory. Attention will be paid to each work in its particular cultural context and readings will be supplemented with select historical material to help students position works in their own unique time and place. But the primary goal of the course will be to look at these theories and plays across historical and cultural boundaries: to investigate the ways in which they build from, respond to, or challenge one another and to identify how and why certain ideas and plays retain intellectual traction and emotional impact long after their particular cultural milieu has disappeared. More than that, the aim of the course will be to engage directly with the selfsame questions posed in the texts being studied: What is the theatre? How is it best structured? How does it function in society? Why should it exist at all? Students should expect to leave the class with an understanding of how others have approached these queries through the ages but also with a clearer articulation of their own beliefs and viewpoints, enhanced through the study of past thinkers and artists.



Theatre/Theory/Theatre: The Major Critical Texts from Aristotle and Zeami to Soyinka and Havel, ed. Daniel Gerould (New York, NY: Applause, 2000)

Aristotle, Poetics (excerpts)                                

Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy (excerpts)

Sidney, “The Defense of Poesy”

Brecht, “The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre”

Corneille, “Of the Three Unities”

Artaud, The Theatre and Its Double (excerpts)

Schiller, “The Stage as a Moral Institution” The Norton Anthology of Drama: Shorter Edition, ed. J. Ellen Gainor, Stanton Garner, Jr., and Martin Puchner (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009)

Sophocles, Oedipus the King                                                                    

Strindberg, Miss Julieo Shakespeare, Hamlet                                                                                  

Brecht, The Good Woman of Setzuano Moliere, Tartuffe                                                                                            

Beckett, Waiting for Godot 



Discussion - Participation in classroom discussion: 15%

Presentations - Oral Presentations: 10%

Writing - University Lecture Response Paper (2 pages): 15%, Short Essay – with one revision (6-8                  pages): 25%, Research Essay – with one revision (10-12 pages): 35% 


About the Professor: David Kornhaber is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D., with Distinction, from Columbia University and his A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard College. His research interests center on Modern and Contemporary Drama and particularly the intersections of theatre and philosophy. He has published journal articles and book chapters on Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, and contemporary theatre in New York, and he is currently at work on a manuscript entitled The Birth of Theatre from the Spirit of Philosophy: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Development of the Modern Drama. He also served as Assistant Editor of the academic journal Theatre Survey from 2007-2008. He is an avid theatre-goer and has worked previously as a theatre critic and arts journalist. He has served as an Affiliated Writer with American Theatre, as a theatre critic for The Village Voice, and as a contributor to the Theatre section of The New York Times.

T C 357 • Shakespeare In Performance

43460 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PAR 210
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Instructor: David D. Kornhaber, Assistant Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts


Description: This course, a discussion and participation class emphasizes Shakespeare as a man of the theater, a player as well as a creator of many roles, a member of an acting troupe. To read his plays merely as literary texts, rather than as scripts, is to miss something crucial about them. Students are not expected to be theater majors, but should be interested in aspects of performance -- staging, speaking, enacting characters, directing, and so on -- that help us to understand both the texts of Shakespearean drama and their historical and theatrical context.

We will study eight plays, reading and viewing them in multiple versions in order to see how productions work as translations/interpretations.  We will also work with videos of the series Playing Shakespeare by John Barton, former Royal Shakespeare Company director, and with Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS), a troupe of five classically trained British actors from England who will be in residency at UT for a week in November, teaching classes (including ours) and performing a play.  Classes will be primarily detailed discussion of the day's assignment and the productions, both live and on video, and acting out scenes from the plays.  Class attendance and active participation are required.  Students will attend screenings of plays (and live theater when possible), participate in two groups that are responsible for presenting plays to the class, and engage fully in the AFTLS residency.


Texts/Readings (tentative):

David Bevington, ed., The Essential Shakespeare

John Barton, Playing Shakespeare



Play Journals - 20%

Two short papers, 15% each - 30%

Term Paper - 30%

Class participation - 20%


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