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American Drama: Mamet to the Present

Class at Faculty of Arts |





The course will investigate the development of contemporary American drama since the 1970s. C.W.E. Bigsby observes that it is only when we reach the twentieth century that American drama begins to “test its own boundaries and possibilities.” We will explore the ways in which its key playwrights address these boundaries and possibilities in particular through recurrent themes of social and individual alienation as well as through formal experiment. The playwrights in focus this semester will be selected from the following list: David Mamet, Sam

Shepard, Luis Valdez, Marsha Norman, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner, Rebecca Gilman, Neil LaBute and Steven

Aldy Guirgis.


A selection of plays from the following list will constitute primary reading:

David Mamet Duck Variations (1971) American Buffalo (1977), Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1974) Oleanna

(1992), Luis Valdez Zoot Suit (1978) I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinking Badges! (1986), Sam Shepard

Geography of a Horse Dreamer (1974) Suicide in B Flat (1976), Buried Child (1978) / Fool For Love (1983), True

West (1980), Marsha Norman ‘night Mother (1982), Paula Vogel Desdemona: A Play about a Handkerchief (1993)

How I Learned to Drive (1997), Tony Kushner Angels in America, Rebecca Gilman Boy Gets Girl (2001), The

Sweetest Swing in Baseball (2004), Neil LaBute The Shape of Things, Steven Aldy Guirgis Our Lady of 121st

Street (2002) Jesus Hopped the A Train (2000).

Preliminary secondary reading material:

• Bigsby, C.W.E. A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama. Volume three, Beyond Broadway.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

• Bigsby, C.W.E. Modern American Drama, 1945-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

• Bigsby, C.W.E. Modern American Drama, 1945-2000. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Other material will be suggested at the beginning of the course.


Students are expected to attend classes, read the materials assigned and to participate in discussions. All students requiring credits must submit an essay.


Final essays for Credit (Záp.) should be 2500-3000 words.

Final essays for PP/ZK should be 4500-5000 words.

Suggestions for essay topics will be provided during the semester.