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Modern Drama: Self, Society and the Stage

Class at Faculty of Arts |


PLEASE NOTE: This class is not on offer in 2023/24

N.B.: 25.9.2022 THIS CLASS IS FULL. There are 18 people signed up from FF on a separate list. We can have a maximum of 20 people in the seminar, which is already 5 more than the standard.

THIS CODE IS SPECIFICALLY FOR ERASMUS STUDENTS who need a grade for this course.

The course is only open to DALC incoming Erasmus students. Please note: students must enrol in the course by week two of the semester (if there is still space). Students attempting to enrol on week 3 or later will not be accepted.


This is a BA optional seminar. The course will introduce students to some of the core elements of late nineteenth century and twentieth century anglophone theatre, combining attention to plays, dramaturgy and theatre history. We will explore different ideas of playwriting and the purpose of theatre, and will examine how these ideas intersect with diverse social, political and aesthetic contexts. In addition, we will attend to the role of production and adaptation – how a play text becomes a theatre performance. Playwrights will include Oscar Wilde, G.B. Shaw, Susan Glaspell, Eugene O’Neill, Seán O’Casey, Samuel Beckett, Arthur Miller, Lorraine Hansberry, John Osborne, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Brian Friel and Caryl Churchill.


Week 1 (4.10): Introduction – drama at the end of the 19th century

Week 2: (11.10) From Lady Windemere to Mrs Warren: Oscar Wilde, Lady Windemere’s Fan (1892) Bernard Shaw, Mrs Warren’s Profession (1892/1902)

Week 3: (18.10) Two American shorts: Susan Glaspell, Trifles (1916) Eugene O’Neill, The Hairy Ape (1922)

Week 4: (25.10) Patriotism and its discontents: Seán O’Casey, The Plough and the Stars (1926)

Week 5: (1.11) Lyrical dispositions and dispossessions: Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie (1945) Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949)

Week 6: (8.11) American realism, American idealism: Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

Week 7: (15.11) Experiments, marking time and the end of the world: Samuel Beckett, Endgame (1957)

Week 8: (22.11) Experiments, forced entertainments: Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party (1958)

Week 9: (29.11) British realism, next generation: John Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1956)

Week 10: (6. 12) Intertexts and existentialism: Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1966)

Week 11: (13.12) Decoding the past, mapping the present: Brian Friel, Translations (1980)

Week 12: (20.12) History loop: Caryl Churchill, Top Girls (1982)


Week 13: (3.1) Conclusions and discussion of essay proposals