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HISTORY OF THE WESTERN THEATER: SEMESTER I

Fall Semester 2015

Theater and Dance 252


MW 12: 20
Mudd 050
Taught by Roger Copeland
Professor of Theater and Dance
Phone: #5-8152
Hall Annex 207:
Office Hours:
Monday
4:30 -6:00
Wednesday
5:00 - 6:00
Additional times by appointment
(Please call Janice Sanborn, the Theater/Department secretary at x8152 to make an appointment for Mon./Wed. office hours--that way you'll know
you have a scheduled appointment and won't have to wait. Also, Im often free right after class ends at 2: 15 if theres anything pressing you need
to ask me about.)
Required Texts:
Aeschylus, The Oresteian Trilogy
Aristophanes, The Clouds and The Frogs
Aristotle, The Poetics, trans. by G.F. Else
Brockett, O.G. (and Franklin Hildy) History of the Theatre (10th edition)
Euripides, The Bacchae (in Three Tragedies)
Shakespeare, King Lear
Sophocles, Oedipus The King
Note: With the exception of G.F. Elses translation of Aristotles The Poetics and William Arrowsmiths translation of The Bacchae , it
doesnt matter which translation of the classical Greek plays you read.
All additional required reading for this course can be found on-line at : westerntheaterhistoryfall15.weebly.com .
Three of the plays were reading this semester --The Second Shepherds Play, Everyman, and Marlowe's Dr. Faustus ---can be found on the
website for this course. They are anthologized in a book (currently out of print) called The Genius of the Early English Theatre, edited by Sylvan
Barnet. In addition, a number of essays that constitute required reading are posted on the same Theater 252 Web Site. The recommended
(rather than required) reading for this course will be placed on Reserve in Mudd Library.
Course Requirements:
Two written examinations (a mid-term, Wed. Oct. . 14 th ( in class ) and a final, Friday, Dec. 19th, 7:00-9:00 PM., (also in Mudd 050). Please note
that the essay portion of the mid-term will be a "take-home" exam, handed out in class on Mon. October 12th and due by 11 P.M. on Tuesday ,
October 13st (the evening
prior to the in class examination.) The completed take home
exam should be e-mailed directly to
Roger.Copeland@Oberlin.edu Detailed information about the format of the exams appears on the third and fourth pages of this syllabus.
The two exams will each count for one-half of the final grade. However, if you're uncomfortable with the prospect of having your entire grade rest on
the scores of two examinations, you can also opt to write an eight -to -twelve page essay due by 4:00 P.M.. on Tuesday Dec. 17th. (The paper will
provides you with an opportunity to compare and contrast the central argument in two or more of the assigned essays posted on the website for this
course.) If you opt to write a paper: the mid-term, the final and the essay will each count for one-third of the eventual grade. Please Note: No one
will be permitted to take a make-up exam unless he or she can present a medical or emergency justification from the office of the Dean of Students.
All conflicts with the final exam schedule must be resolved before Fall Recess. All students are expected to be familiar with and to abide by-Oberlins Honor Code as it pertains to examinations and papers.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: An attendance sheet will be posted on the door of Mudd 050. Please sign your name as you enter the classroom. Make
sure you sign in with your full name, not just your initials . Julia Rudolph , our TA, will keep track of attendance; so if you need to miss class (due
to illness, travel, etc), please try and let Julia know in advance of the class meeting. Poor attendance will result in the lowering of grades, or,
in extreme cases, the loss of credit for the course. To be more specific: if you accumulate more than three unexcused absences or five late
arrivals, your final grade will be automatically lowered. Those who accumulate more than four unexcused absences will not receive credit for
the course, regardless of how well they do on the exams.

Deadline for Declaring Pass/No Pass or Withdrawing from the Course

Please note that you will automatically receive a letter grade for this course unless you opt to take it on a Credit/No Entry / Pass/No Pass basis. (If
you choose the latter option, the Registrar must be notified of your decision by Tuesday, Nov. 3rd. This is also the last day on which you can
withdraw from the course without receiving a grade that will appear on your transcript and be factored into your GPA.)
Teaching Assistant:
Julia Rudolph will be serving as the Teaching Assistant for this course. Shell be conducting out of class , small -group study sessions on a regular
basis. If you want to meet with her for individual tutoring , she can be reached at jrudolph@oberlin.edu

Syllabus
Mon. Aug. 31
INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
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Wed. Sept. 2
OVERVIEW (aka THE BIG PICTURE), Continued
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon.. Sept. 7
Labor Day (No Class)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Sept. 9

FROM DIONYSIAN RITUAL TO THEATER: THE ORIGINS OF TRAGIC DRAMA


(Read Brockett, pp. 1-6; (J. Harrison, "From Ritual to Art", B. Myerhoff, "The Transformation of Consciousness in Ritual
Performances) These essays are posted on the website for this course.)

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mon. Sept. 14
MYTHOLOGY AND EPIC: THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF PLOT
_______________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Sept. 16

GREEK THEATER ARCHITECTURE and STAGING CONVENTIONS


(Read Brockett pp. 16---35 ; also Tony Harrison's "Introduction to Trackers." Which is on the course website.)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Sept. 21

THE TRAGIC VIEW OF LIFE


(Read Brockett pp. 12-15 , also R. Wetzsteon, "The Whirling Dervishes." and H.V. Kleist, "Puppet Theatre" both of
which are on the course website.)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Sept. 23
Yom Kippur (No class)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Sept. 28

THE POETICS: MIMESIS AND THE SIX CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS OF TRAGIC DRAMA
(Read Elses translation of The Poetics, paying particular attention to pp. 21-22 and 25-29) also read Elses
introduction to his translation.)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Sept. 30
AESCHYLUS ORESTEIA: FROM CHTHONIAN TO OLYMPIAN VALUES
(Read The Oresteian Trilogy)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Oct. 5

THE LIBATION BEARERS And THE EUMENIDES: FROM MATRIARCHY TO PATRIARCHY


(Re-read the final two plays in the trilogy.)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Oct. 7

SOPHOCLEAN TRAGEDY: OEDIPUS THE KING


(Read the play)
_______________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Oct. 12
EURIPIDES The Bacchae
(Read The Bacchae , as well as Arrowsmiths introduction to his own translation)
Note: Take home portion of mid-term will be handed out at the end class
________________________________________________________________________________________

Wed. Oct. 14
MID-TERM : SHORT ANSWER PORTION (IN CLASS)
________________________________________________________________________________________
FALL BREAK
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Oct. 26
ARISTOPHANES AND OLD COMEDY
(Read The Clouds and Brockett pp. 15--16)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Oct. 28
FROM OLD COMEDY TO NEW COMEDY
(Read The Frogs, also Brockett pp. 40--60. Recommended reading:
Menander's Dyskolos, on reserve in Mudd)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Nov. 2
ROMAN DRAMA IN THE 3RD AND 2ND CENTURIES B.C.
(Read Brockett pp. 40-60; Recommended Reading: Plautus' Twin Menaechmi and Terence's The Brothers,
both in The Complete Roman Drama, on reserve in Mudd Library)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Nov. 4

ROMAN THEATER ARCHITECTURE AND STAGING PRACTICES/ SENECA AND THE DECLINE OF ROMAN
DRAMA
Read Brockett pp. 50-55, plus 60-62; Recommended Reading: Thyestes in The Complete Roman Drama, on reserve)

___________________________________________________________
Syllabus, cont.
Mon. Nov. 9

MEDIEVAL DRAMA: THE MYSTERY CYCLES AND THE ETERNAL PRESENT


(Read Brockett pp. 69- -92)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Nov. 11

THE SECOND SHEPERD'S PLAY


(Read The Second Sheperds Play in the Barnet anthology on the course website)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Nov. 16

THE TRANSITION FROM MEDIEVAL TO EARLY RENAISSANCE DRAMA:


THE DANCE OF DEATH AND THE MORALITY PLAYS
(Read Everyman in the Barnet Anthology on the course website plus Brockett pp. 94--104)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Nov. 18
Marlowe's THE TRAGICAL HISTORY OF DOCTOR FAUSTUS
( Read the play in the Barnet anthology on the course website.)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Nov. 23
THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE: NEOCLASSICISM AND COMMEDIA DELL ARTE
(Read Brockett pp. 154-160, 172-176)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Nov. 25
THE EVOLUTION OF THE PROSCENIUM STAGE
(Read Brockett pp. 160--170)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Nov. 30

THE ELIZABETHAN WORLD-VIEW


(Read E.M.W. Tillyard's essay Order" on the course website)
________________________________________________________________________________________

Wed. Dec. 2

ELIZABETHAN STAGING PRACTICES


(Read Brockett pp. 113--135)
________________________________________________________________________________________
Mon. Dec. 7

SHAKESPEARE: THE PLAYWRIGHT AND THE PERSON ( Intro to King Lear)


(Read Brockett pp. 108-111 and begin reading Lear. )
________________________________________________________________________________________
Wed. Dec. 9
KING LEAR: TRAGEDY AND "THE THING ITSELF"

(Read or re-read Shakespeares Lear)


____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
__
FINAL EXAM:
Friday. DECEMBER 18th, 7:00-9:00 P.M. MUDD 050
ALL CONFLICTS WITH THE FINAL EXAM SCHEDULE MUST BE RESOLVED BEFORE FALL BREAK.
Note: If you choose to write a paper as the third component of your grade, it will be due by 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday. Dec. 15th (the last day of
Reading Period). Please e-mail the paper to me at Roger.Copeland@Oberlin.edu.
________________________________________________________________________________________

Study Guide for the Mid-Term and Final Exam


Both the mid-term and the final will cover comparable quantities of material. The Final will not be cumulative. It will only cover the work we
do following Fall Break. You will receive an extensive study guide prior to both exams. The guide will provide you with a list of the questions
from which the assigned Essay questions will be chosen.
The Mid-term will be divided into two sections: Part I is a take home essay that will be handed out at the end of class on Monday
October 132h and will be due (via e-mail) by 11 P.M. on Tuesday Oct., 13 th the evening prior to the in-class portion of the exam. The out of
class portion will consist of a single essay question. (A typical such question appears below.) This essay will be worth 30 (out of 100)
possible points. You will have one hour to answer the question. As for expectations regardless the length of your essay: You should be
able to adequately answer the question in two or three double spaced typewritten pages. Part II is an in class exam on Wed. Oct. 15 th .
This portion of the exam will consist of short , less expansive questions that can be answered satisfactorily in a couple of sentences.
There will be seven categories of such questions. And you'll be asked to answer one and only one--- question from each category.
These questions will be worth ten points apiece. Note: Both portions of the exam are closed book no notes, handout sheets , books,
etc. maybe be consulted.
Part I: (Typical Essay Questions for the take home portion of the exam) :
1. Define both theater and ritual. Discuss the essential differences between them. Trace the transition from ritual to theatre in ancient
Greece. More specifically: Discuss the way in which the choric dithyramb is thought to have evolved over time into the sort of tragic drama
we find in Sophocles Oedipus Rex and Euripides The Bacchae.
Part II: Sample Short Answer Questions:
1. In what sense do the characters Cassandra and Teiresias both embody the tragic view of life?
2. List three reasons why full facial masks were so essential to the classical Greek theater.

Guide to the Exams, cont.


The Final Exam will be administered during finals period : Friday , Dec. 18th, 7:00-9:00 PM., in Mudd 050). The format will be similar
to the mid-termexcept that both the essay and the short answer sections will be subsumed into a single two hour exam. But on the
final , there will probably be two essay-style questions --worth 15 points each --and seven categories of short answer questions worth ten
points each.

Course Credos:
The Whole Purpose of Education is to turn mirrors into windowsSydney J. Harris,
To converse with those of other centuries is almost the same as to travel."---Descartes, Discourse on Method
Approaches to Theater History:
Excerpts from Bertolt Brechts A Worker Reads History:
Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
4

Who built the city up each time?..


Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone? Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?...
So many particulars.
So many questions.
A Preface to the study of Classical Greek Theater (or, a brief meditation on the complex co-existence of beauty and
barbarism): "Athens has given us the greatest gift imaginable: the ideal and the reality of a democratic polity based on a
complex and moral conception of citizenship. On the other hand, with the hand that held the sword, Athens bequeathed a cruel and
imperial domination of other Greek cities, the slaughter and enslavement of its wartime opponents, the occasional genocide of
another polis, not to mention the ownership of tens of thousands of domestic and industrial slaves and the almost total exclusion
of women from cultural and political life. It is of crucial importance to try to understand what gross immoralities are still compatible
with the forms of democratic society. Athens provides us with one of the sharpest examples, if not the sharpest, of this awesome
human contradiction."--Eli Sagan, The Honey and the Hemlock