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THEA 307 Fall 2018

Theatre History Honors Syllabus

T/R 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in MCALC 1105

Instructor: Jesse Njus


Office: Main Theatre Office (second floor)

Office Hours: 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. M/W

Overview: What is Theatre History? Theatre history does not exist solely in the past, to be dusted off and presented as a series of dates and archaic societal practices. The history of performance remains not only relevant but contemporary as techniques that have existed for thousands of years resurface in modern performance. Incorporating masks, music, dance, puppets, or theatre-in-the- round into contemporary performances (to name only a few staging elements) is often considered a hallmark of modern drama while it actually represents the reintroduction of historical components. The theatrical masks of the Greeks, Romans, and Commedia dell’Arte, South- and East-Asian puppetry, the use of music and dance in Classical Greek theatre, and the Elizabethan thrust stage are all examples of historic practices that continue to remain vital to theatre. Yet as these elements revitalize modern performance, we often forget how extraordinary and multi- faceted they were in their original contexts. As we challenge the modern boundary between theatre and performance, we forget that we are simply rediscovering the intricacy that existed in performance for thousands of years. Hopefully, this course will complicate your relationship to history as well as your relationship to theatre and performance. At the end of this class, you should be prepared to deal with any performance you encounter in the world and better prepared to create your own!

BOOKS: Almost all articles and plays will be available on Blackboard. PURCHASE any edition of Shakespeare’s As You Like It by or before November 15. ASSIGNMENTS: All reading is to be completed by the day assigned. Bring your text to class! There will also be weekly quizzes, 4 response papers (various lengths), a midterm exam, a final project, and a final research paper based on your final project (5-6pp). Late papers will be accepted, but for every day the paper is late (including weekends) the grade will be lowered 1/3 (i.e. from a B+ to a B or from a B to a B-). There is no extra credit.

ATTENDANCE: Attendance is mandatory. You may miss 2 classes. For every extra class you miss, your overall course grade will be lowered. Excessive tardiness will also lower your grade.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Honor System: upholding academic integrity The VCU Honor System policy describes the responsibilities of students, faculty and administration in upholding academic integrity, while at the same time respecting the rights of individuals to the due process offered by administrative hearings and appeals. According to this policy, “Members of the academic community are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of academic honesty, ethics and integrity at all times.” In addition, “To support a commitment to the Honor System, all members of the VCU community are required to:

Adhere to the Honor System policy and its procedures;

Report any suspicion or knowledge of possible violations of the Honor System;

Answer truthfully when called upon to do so regarding Honor System matters;

Theatre History 307 2

Maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding related to Honor System matters.”

PLEASE SEE THE WEBSITE of The Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity for more information. Do your own work and cite your sources!

STUDENTS with Disabilities: To receive accommodations, students must register with the Office of Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity on the Monroe Park Campus (828- 2253) or the Division for Academic Success on the MCV campus (828-9782). Please also visit the Student Accessibility and Educational Opportunity website and/or the Division for Academic Success website for additional information. and/or

OFFICE HOURS: My office and office hours are listed above. If you cannot make my listed office hours, please email me and we will schedule an appointment. I will try to answer all email communication within 24 hours, not counting weekends. FURTHER

INFORMATION and syllabus statements, PLEASE GO TO Students should visit and review all syllabus statement information. The full university syllabus statement includes information on safety, registration, the VCU Honor Code, student conduct, withdrawal and more.


5% Participation and attendance (honors: meetings once a week w/professor)

10% Quizzes

10% Special Project on Medieval India

20% Response papers (1 extra response paper and longer papers for honors)

15% Midterm Exam

20% Final Project

20% Final Research Paper (longer for honors)

LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of this course, students will be able to analyze performance and literature within historical contexts, critique scholarly arguments, demonstrate the ability to compare global performance techniques, and think critically about a wide variety of performance elements.




A (4.0)

Exceptional achievement. Substantial effort and achievement in the areas of critical thinking, technique, and presentation.

B (3.0)

Very good work that satisfies goals of course; clear and convincing structure that is complex and unique.

C (2.0)

Average. Original assignment approached but does not develop further.

D (1.0)

Below average. Does not fully understand assignments. Very little effort, is incomplete or late. Lacks of full understanding and commitment.

F (0)

Failure, no credit.

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Weekly Breakdown

Week One: Introduction

8/23: IN CLASS: Introduction

Week Two: Ancient Athenian Tragedy

8/28: READ: Euripides The Bacchae

8/30: READ: Goldhill “The Audience of Athenian Tragedy”

Week Three: Ancient Athenian Comedy

9/4: READ: Aristophanes Lysistrata

9/6: READ: Hazell “The Power of the Mask” AND Aspden “Opera and National Identity”

(selection “The rise of the chorus”)

Week Four: Medieval Japanese Noh (Tragedy)

9/11: READ: Anonymous Tomoe

9/13: READ: Zeami, Teachings on Style and the Flower (Fūshikaden) pp. 4-17 and 43-63

DUE: Response Paper 1: On Masks (3pp+mask)

Week Five: Pre-Columbian Americas

9/18: READ: Mayan Rabinal Achi

9/20: READ: Tedlock Rabinal Achi: A Mayan Drama of War and Sacrifice (selections)

Week Six: Post-Columbian Americas

9/25: READ: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Loa for the Divine Narcissus

9/27: READ: Meyer “Reclaiming the Discourse of Camp”

Week Seven: Early Modern China

10/2: READ: Xu Wei Mulan

10/4: REVIEW!!

DUE: Response Paper 2: On the Chorus (3pp)

Week Eight: Midterm and Puppets

10/9: MIDTERM!

10/11: READ: Bunraku Puppet Play: Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shoraku, Namiki Senryu

Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees (selection from Act IV, scene 5: “The Fox”)

Week Nine: Puppets

10/16: READ: Schumann “What, At the End of This Century, Is the Situation of Puppets and

Performing Objects?”

HONORS: This week will include a special project on the theatre of Medieval India

10/18: NO CLASS! Reading Day

Week Ten: Medieval Japanese Kyogen (Comedy)

10/23: READ: Anonymous Thunderbolt AND Mushrooms AND The Delicious Poison

10/25: READ: Bogost “Alien Phenomenology” from Alien Phenomenology

Week Eleven: Medieval Comediennes

10/30: READ: Hrotsvit The Passion of the Holy Virgins Agape, Chionia, and Irena

11/1: READ: Gordon “Lazzi”

DUE: Response Paper 3: On Puppets (3pp+puppet)

Week Twelve: Commedia dell’Arte

11/6: READ: Moilere Tartuffe

11/8: READ: Peacock “Slapstick and Comic Violence in Commedia dell’Arte”

Week Thirteen: NSFW!!! XXX-Rated Shadow Puppets from Medieval Egypt

11/13: READ: Ibn Dāniyāl The Shadow Spirit (pp. 4-43, scene six)

11/15: READ: Ibn Dāniyāl The Shadow Spirit (pp. 43-end)

Week Fourteen: Shakespeare

11/20: READ: Shakespeare As You Like It Acts I-III

11/22: NO CLASS: Happy Thanksgiving!

Week Fifteen: Shakespeare

11/27: READ: Shakespeare As You Like It Acts IV-V

11/29: IN CLASS: Rehearse Final Projects

DUE: Response Paper 4: Play Critique (3pp)

HONORS: A second play critique on a non- VCU show will be due earlier in the semester, depending on the show agreed upon with the instructor. This critique will require in depth analysis of masks and/or puppets

Week Sixteen: Final Projects

12/4: IN CLASS: Performance

DUE: OUTLINE of final project for all groups performing

12/6: IN CLASS: Performance

DUE: OUTLINE of final project for all groups performing

FINAL PAPER DUE: THURSDAY DEC 13 at 8:00am (8pp)