ENG 240 Modern British and American Drama

Emily Wojcik, T Th 9:00 AM-10:20 AM

Modern American and British drama represents, above all, the efforts of playwrights to engage and respond to the massive shifts in culture and society that the two countries underwent beginning at the end of the 19th century: technology, science, nationalism,class and women's issues, and a shifting and problematic sense of identity, both personal and national, that begins to manifest at the dawning of a century that brought with it two World Wars, large-scale immigration, and a dawning awareness of racial, gender, sexual, and post-colonial identities.
In this class, we’ll investigate the ways that American and British authors attempted to articulate, challenge, and subvert such issues on the stage, and how these two cultures “communicated” across the pond through innovations in dramatic structure, language, and stagecraft. We will consider more basic questions as well, not least “How does drama differ from other literary forms?” and “Why plays, instead of novels, poetry, etc?”
We will (try to) read approximately one play a week and, whenever possible and appropriate, watch clips of movie versions of the plays. I will post critical readings on Moodle (reviews, manifestoes, theories listed as “Secondary Reading” on the calendar). We will not discuss them in-depth, but I will expect you to have read them and anticipate that they will help deepen our discussions.