Course Agenda and Goals: “The question of [dramatic] form runs parallel to the question of the way the world is set up. If you are questioning form in the theatre, then you are questioning the form of the world."
-- Suzan-Lori Parks
As the voices and experiences of women, persons of color, and other potentially marginalized populations find their way onto our stages, playwrights are experimenting with new dramatic models to serve those voices and give shape to their experience. This course will offer a study of many contemporary writers and their dramatic responses to the question of how gender, race, and the politics of personal identity are reshaping the way we think about plot, character, and theatrical style. We will place a strong emphasis on issues of “form” as well as “content.” That is, we will be discussing not just what we think a play means, but how we think it creates meaning through its form and structure. These are new plays, some of them are shocking plays, but they all expand our conceptions of what a play can be. I have consciously avoided any attempt to “group” the plays in this course into sub-categories – either by virtue of subject matter, form, race, or gender -- so expect to be changing gears rapidly from class to class, play to play.
Required Texts (in bookstore):
Handout: Teatro Campesino / Chicano Theatre articles
10/22 Suzan-Lori Parks, Top Dog/ Underdog
Handout: “Possession of S-L Parks” article
10/25 Suzan-Lori Parks, Venus
Handout: bell hooks / “Consuming the ‘Other’” reading
10/29Cherrie Moraga, “Sour Grapes” and “The Insatiable Woman” (handout)
& Moraga, The Hungry Woman, Act I (Fringe)
11/1 The Hungry Woman, Act II
Second Essay Due
11/5 Tim Miller, My Queer Body
Handout: The NEA Four and freedom of expression
11/8 Tony Kushner, Angels in America (Part One)
11/12 Octavio Solis, Lydia
11/15 Over Week-end, attend: Angels in America, Lefevre Theatre
11/22 “Sphinxes without Secrets” (in-class video)
11/29 David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross
Take-Home Final Distributed
-- Daily written responses to readings (neatly written or typed, must be submitted on day play is due! No late responses!)
-- 2 Short Essays
Each of the essays should be 4 - 5 pages, typed and double-spaced. Always make sure you have a copy of an essay before submitting your original! Most essays will be argumentative in nature -- you will begin with a thesis statement and argue your viewpoint, supported with evidence from the text. You may be required to undertake additional reading for the second essay.
Papers must be turned in on the date due, so plan ahead! Extensions will be given only if requests are made at least one class period in advance of due dates. No exceptions. Late papers will me marked down ½ grade per day.
-- 1 Take-Home Final Exam (essay form -- or something creative???-- 3-4 pages)
Participation / Attendance Policy: Since this course is based on discussion, it cannot be "made up" -- you must attend in order to participate. Excessive absences (more than two) will result in a lowered semester grade. There are no “excused absences.”
You have the responsibility to prepare well for class discussion and to participate actively in the discussion. You will be graded, in part, on the degree to which you demonstrate in class that you have read and thought about the assigned reading. If you are consistently silent in class, I will assume you are not prepared.
If you miss a class, you are personally responsible for checking with a classmate to assure that there have been no assignments given and no changes in the syllabus.
Roughly: 25% attendance/in-class participation (including responses*); 25% each of two papers; 25% Final Exam.
*Failure in area of in-class participation and responses can lead to failure in course regardless of grades in other areas.
Academic Honor Code
This course supports and upholds the conditions of the Academic Honor Code. Any suspected violations of that code will be discussed with the student involved and, if not resolved, brought before the Academic Honor Council.
Student Disability Services
Student Disability Services extends reasonable and appropriate accommodations that take into account the context of the course and its essential elements, for individuals with qualifying disabilities. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Student Disability Services Coordinator at (925) 631-4164 to set up a confidential appointment to discuss accommodation guidelines and available services. Additional information regarding the services available may be found at the following address on the Saint May’s website: http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/academics/academic-advising-and-achievement/student-disability-services.html