English | American Drama
L363 | 26969 | Shane Vogel

Shane Vogel

26969 - 4:00p-5:15p TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.

TOPIC:  "Performance and American Modernity, 1850-1950"

This course will explore how performance shaped and responded to the
development of an American modernity in the one hundred years
between 1850 and 1950. In addition to studying dramatic texts and
attending to the theatrical history of the time, we will also look
closely at performance traditions such as minstrelsy and melodrama;
cabaret and nightlife performances; Tin Pan Alley, blues, and jazz;
realism and expressionism. By looking at this diverse range of
material, we will develop an archive of performances through which
to consider how modern American identities and social relations have
been represented, elaborated, challenged, and (mis)recognized on the
American stage. Some questions that will guide our inquiry
throughout the semester include: How has performance responded to
the rapid and sometimes violent changes that define modern life? How
have performers and playwrights, audiences and actors, sought to act
as subjects rather than objects of these changes? How are social
relations imagined and reimagined on the American stage? How did
performers, writers, and directors use theatrical innovation and
experimentation to address and redress the conditions of social
relations under modernity? As these questions suggest, this course
will ultimately address how performance—as a subject and a mode of
scholarly inquiry—challenges and extends traditional archives of
American modernity.

We will read plays by T. D. Rice, Dion Boucicault, Angelina Weld
Grimké, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Glaspell, Georgia Douglas Johnson,
Sophie Treadwell, Tennessee Williams, and Elmer Rice, as well as
additional primary and secondary materials about American
performance culture. Students will be expected to attend class
regularly and participate actively in readings and discussions
throughout the semester, as well as complete one short essay, one
longer research paper, and a number of formal response papers.