ENGL 125 Spring 2015 Theater and Politics (W)

When Plato designed his ideal republic, he excluded theater from it, arguing that indulging in the charms of theatrical representation would make men poor governors of themselves and thus threaten the integrity of fledgling Greek democracies. In the twentieth-century, however, the work of younger artists and playwrights as diverse as Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud provocatively suggested that theater itself could remedy the ills that Plato thought it aggravated by restoring to the people the productive power that the passively on-looking masses had ceded to the charisma of dictators. Today, as rapid changes in media daily transform the way in which we experience the world and understand our place within it, artists, critics, and philosophers continue to draw on the terms of historical debates about theater in attempts to understand the political significance of technologically enhanced forms of global spectatorship, asking what becomes of the traditional roles of viewers and directors on the new world-stage, in an age when revolutions are triggered by cell phone images, but advertising campaigns are also customized to consumers based on automated scans of private information like email. In this seminar, students take a historical approach to these urgent contemporary questions, analyzing the politics of theater in literature, criticism, film, and philosophy from antiquity to the present. In addition to excerpts from the authors already mentioned, readings may include works by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, Beckett, Jacques Rancière, and Michael Haneke.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: 4-5 papers totaling 20 pages
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: first-year students who have not taken or placed out of a 100-level ENGL course
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Divisional Attributes: Division I,Writing Intensive
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Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 3542
ENGL 125 - 01 (S) SEM Theater and Politics (W) Division 1: Languages and the ArtsWriting Intensive Walter Johnston
TR 08:30 AM-09:45 AM Hopkins Hall 400 (Rogers Room) 3542
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