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Modern Drama: Realism and Naturalism

H28.0705       4 Credits
Instructor(s): J. Jeffreys

Call # 70913

Thursday, 12:30 - 1:45pm

Note: * Enrollment in  Section 001 is restricted to  Sophomores in the Drama department.  Section 002 is open to all students.

This course will examine the primarily 19th century European movement toward Realism and Naturalism that remains a major influence in today’s theater, shaping both dramatic practice and audience expectation.  The question of how to define these sometimes synonymous and often divergent terms will be tackled head-on, leading to a recognition that neither can be separated from each other or from the larger historical and theoretical context from which they arose. We will look at the relationship of Realism and Naturalism to the philosophical climate of the 1800s (Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Freud), to other theatrical movements (Romanticism, Symbolism, Expressionism and Aestheticism), to contemporaneous dramatic and literary forms (melodrama, the well-made play, the novel, photography), and to concrete historical trends (the rise of nation states, changing sex roles and family structures). The course focuses on the plays of the major European dramatists who defined the movement (Zola, Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw), and tentatively traces its transformation in early to middle 20th century American drama. The inevitable question as to whether “the real” and “the natural” can ever be truly represented will be faced, but not at the expense of failing to ask what may or may not be gained from the attempt.  (Theatre Studies C)