L365 2082 MAISANO
Modern Drama Continental

9:05a-9:55a MWF (30) 3 CR.

TOPIC: “Playing with Science: The Drama of Knowledge-Making from Ibsen to Auburn”

Ever since Zola set the stage for a naturalist theatre in Europe by advocating that the artist emulate the scientist in both method (“objective,” “demystified”) and aims (“an exact analysis of man”), the issues of contemporary science have been a mainstay of the continental stage. This spring the IU theatre department will stage a production of David Auburn’s Proof, which, though an American play, acquires an added significance when read (or viewed) as a drama in dialogue with more than a century of “science in the theatre.” In this course we will trace the shifting fortunes of Zola’s call for a more naturalistic and realistic (viz. “scientific”) theatre as well as asking how modern science (from the fetal images produced by sonograms to the exhibition of industrial marvels at World’s Fairs) lends itself to a peculiarly “dramatic epistemology” and how the modern theatre has redefined such concepts as “character,” “dialogue,” and “plot” in response to humanity’s increasing objectification in the natural and social sciences.

Plays for the course will most likely come from Ibsen (perhaps An Enemy of the People and/or Ghosts), Strindberg, Kaiser (one or all of the Gas trilogy), Cocteau (perhaps The Infernal Machine), Capek (R.U.R.), Brecht (Galileo), Ionesco (The Lesson), Beckett, Muller (Hamletmachine), Durrenmatt (The Physicists), and others. Secondary readings will come from a wide range of commentators on both theatre and science, including but not limited to Emile Zola, Bertolt Brecht, Peter Brook, Carl Djerassi, Bruno Latour, and Sandra Harding.

Grades for the course will be based primarily on students’ performance on two short papers, weekly response papers, a final exam, and class participation.