Sex, Power & Performance (HON THEA 349, spring 2014)

Professor Carol Jordan will teach this fascinating Honors Seminar this spring

  • HON THEA 349
  • CRN 40075
  • MWF, 9.10-10.05am
  • Gordon Wilson Hall 311

This course will explore the interplay of sex, sexuality, gender and power both on the stage and in society.  We will be looking at how different playwrights have dramatized sexual and political dynamics, and how their work has documented, critiqued and/or supported existing cultural beliefs and power structures.  Particular emphasis will be placed on how these issues are presented in both historical and contemporary performances of the plays and the give and take between artistic representations of controversial topics and existing social realities.

Sample Syllabus

Course Materials and Play Attendance:  You will be required to read the following plays as part of this course:  Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Ruined by Lynn Nottage, Measure for Measure by Shakespeare, The Balcony by Jean Genet, Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller, Angels in America (both parts) by Tony Kushner, The Scarlet Princess of Edo by Tsuruya Namboku IV, and Cabaret by Joe Masteroff, John Kander and Fred Ebb.  Several of these texts are available on-line, but if you chose to buy or download an electronic version, you will need to bring a laptop, e-reader or printed version with you to class on the days that we discuss the play.  There may also be additional readings (articles, interviews, historical source material, etc.) required throughout the class.  These will either be distributed to you during class or posted on Blackboard.  You will also be required to attend and critique at least one live theatrical production.

Grading:  You will be required to write a three to five page essay for each of the four major units of the class, as well as an analysis of a live theatrical production.   For your final paper, you will submit a production analysis and a directing and/or design concept based on one of the plays we’ve studied this semester.  Because this is primarily a discussion-based class, participation is also a significant factor in your grade.  Unexcused absences, excessive lateness, failure to bring needed materials to class, or inappropriate use of electronic devices during class will result in a reduction of your participation grade.  If I sense that folks are not keeping up with the reading, I reserve the right to give quizzes at any time (these would be counted as part of your participation grade).  Be aware that the specific course requirements may change slightly by the final syllabus.

Unit 1:  Love is a Battlefield:  Sexual and Political Warfare

           Texts:  Lysistrata, Ruined

Unit 2:  Role Playing vs. Reality:  Sexual and Political Charades

            Texts:  Measure for Measure, The Balcony

Unit 3:  Outsiders in Power:  The Politics of Sexual Difference

            Texts:  Mary Stuart, Angels in America

Unit 4: Sexuality, Morality and Social Upheaval

            Texts:  The Scarlet Princess of Edo, Cabaret

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