English 182: Intro to Drama Classics to Cutting Edge (Fall 2021)

*This course fulfills a Requirement for Dramatic and Film Arts English majors.

*This course is cross-listed with Women’s and Gender Studies 182.


Crowd surfing, stage diving, selfies, and drama queens:

these contemporary terms have a long history in the theatre.

In this class, we’ll ask what distinguishes drama from literature, television & film. Have Covid, social media, and YouTube hijacked essential elements of the drama or revived them…or both? What qualities does a text need to have to be considered a drama? How does drama survive when public gatherings are rendered obsolete by a pandemic? And most crucially, how do the elements of presence, liveness, orality and embodiment make the live drama a uniquely essential art form?

Starting with ancient Greek comedy and tragedy, we will trace drama’s origins from Dionysian rituals to Commedia dell’Arte and other Renaissance forms that influenced Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Later, we will investigate how modern & contemporary drama have been influenced by the rise of social realism, absurdism, postmodernism, and now, Covid. To help us think about the drama as a live, staged performance event, class work will include film screenings, staged readings, critical discussions & “attendance” at two virtual productions.


Instructor:                  Emily Klein                 T/Th     9:45 - 11:20