Recent Course Offerings

Recent Course Offerings:

Fall 2020

Click on course titles for information and description.

Spring 2020

Click on course titles for information and description.

Gender and Womens Studies 340: “The Performance of Everyday Life: Race, Gender, Aesthetics”

ENGL 410 Playwriting

Gender and Womens Studies / Theatre 415: Feminist Theatre and Criticism

MUSIC 419: Music in the U.S — The American Musical: Genre, Spectacle, Celebrity

Art 511: Art Performance

English 578: American Drama Since 1914

C&I 778: Teaching, Literacies, and Identities

AAS 675, Special Topics: “Women Theatre Artists of Africa and the Diaspora.”

AH 801: Historiography, Theory And Methods In Visual Culture

English 851: Advanced Studies In Theatre and Performance Studies Research Topic: Drama, Theatre, Spectacle

English 859: Seminar in Postdramatic Theatre

Art 908: Artists As Curators / Curators As Artists

English 859: Documenting Lives Through Theatre and Performance: A 20th-21st-Centuries Study of the Americas

Professor Paola Hernández

Tuesdays 3:30PM – 6:30PM L177 Education Building


In this ITS seminar course students will learn the historical and theoretical foundations of documentary theatre and performance. We will investigate how the performing arts as ephemeral cultural forms are used to revisit history, to offer multiple explanations of an event, or to confront different versions of truth. Through different case studies from the Americas (Latin America, the US and US Latinx), this course will focus on how material objects and archives—photographs, videos, and documents such as witness reports, legal briefs, and letters—come to life in a new type of documentary theatre. The course will explore the dimension of an object’s meaning, how it can be expanded and reinterpreted on stage, and how onstage interpretations of physical objects help to generate an affective relationship between actor and the audience. Ultimately, students will study a range of interpretations of how documentary theater can not only help conceptualize the idea of self in today’s society, but also proclaim a new mode of testimony through theatrical and embodied practices. This course counts for ITS seminar credit, and it may be taken as a History or Literature or Theory course for prelims.

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English 731/TD 731: Advanced Theatre History – 500bc-1700

Professor Mary Trotter

TR 9:30AM – 10:45AM, Rm EDUCATION L177

In this course we will take a fast-paced journey through about 2500 years of (mostly) western dramatic literature and theatre practice.  Each week we will explore a different tradition of theatre practice through history and critical readings and read at least one dramatic text.  By taking this course you will 1) gain a foundational understanding of how theatre was written, performed and received in several major historical periods; 2)read significant dramas from diverse periods, nations and genres; 3)gain exposure to different modes of theatre historiography, criticism and theory through reading and discussion of secondary texts.

No previous knowledge of theatre history is required to take this course, but both novices and old pros of theatre studies will have an opportunity to gain a richer understanding of how drama, theatre and performance functioned within the art, politics and culture of particular communities, and how their innovations, prejudices, discoveries and traditions continue to shape how we think about theatre, performance and the world today. 

Theatre traditions we will explore include:  Classical Greek Theatre, Classical Indian Theatre, Roman Comedy, Noh Theatre, Medieval Theatre, Early Modern English Drama, Golden Age Spanish Theatre, Commedia dell ‘Arte, Early Opera, French neoclassicism, and theatre of the English Restoration. 

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English 577 : Postcolonial Theatre

Professor Aparna Dharwadker

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00-12:15, Room 4208 Helen C. White Hall

Description: The formal end of European colonialism in various parts of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean has initiated a new phase in literary-cultural production that is now widely recognized as both chronologically and qualitatively “postcolonial.” For more than three decades, however, the field of postcolonial studies has been dominated by the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and theory, deflecting attention away from the genres of drama, theatre, and performance.

The main objective of this course, therefore, is to consider post-independence urban drama and theatre in such locations as India, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and the Caribbean as specifically postcolonial cultural formations that “perform” (rather than merely textualize) the tensions definitive of postcolonialism. The primary materials for the course will focus on such leading postcolonial playwrights as Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Femi Osofisan, the Sistren Theatre collective, Ama Ata Aidoo, Mustapha Matura, and Girish Karnad. For students unfamiliar with postcolonial studies, the class will provide an introduction to major theoretical issues and problems while also covering a range of significant authors. For students already familiar with postcolonial issues and interested in theatre, it will offer new perspectives on genre, language, textuality, intertextuality, sociopolitical contexts, performance, and reception.
Tentative Reading List
Wole Soyinka, A Dance of the Forests (1960)
Femi Osofisan, Morountodun (1979)
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (1976)
Derek Walcott, Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967)
Mustapha Matura, The Coup: A Play of Revolutionary Dreams (1991)
Ama Ata Aidoo, The Dilemma of a Ghost (1964)
Sistren Theatre Collective, QPH (1981)
Aime Cesaire, A Tempest (1969)
Utpal Dutt, Mahavidroha (The Great Rebellion, Bengali, 1973/1985)
Girish Karnad, The Dreams of Tipu Sultan (1997)

Note: For ITS graduate students, this course fulfils the Literature or Theory requirement. PhD students in ITS can also develop a Prelim A paper in this class.

For more information contact Professor Dharwadker at

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English 477: Diaspora and Theatre

Professor Aparna Dharwadker

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00-2:15, Room 4208 Helen C. White Hall

Description: This course deals with the drama and theatre of African, Caribbean, and Asian immigrant communities in three Western locations: Britain, the United States, and Canada. Since the mid-twentieth century, the experience of migrancy has emerged as a globally significant subject in literary writing, but among immigrant cultural forms, drama and theatre lag well behind print genres such as fiction, poetry, non-fiction, criticism, and even a mass cultural medium like film.
(There are no immigrant playwrights, for instance, who can compete with the celebrity of writers and intellectuals like Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy, and Jhumpa Lahiri). Because drama is so much “like life,” it seems to succeed as a diasporic form only when the author has fully embraced life in the diaspora, instead of creating fictions about the lost homeland.

Further, the performance of drama on the stage requires material and human resources, institutional structures, patronage, and live audiences on a scale altogether different from self-sufficient forms like novels and poems. Among communities that have strong historical-cultural connections with the host country, and/or have already undergone a long process of acculturation (such as the Chinese and Latino diasporas in the United States), the theatre form is able to overcome such handicaps and appear more or less on par with other genres. But among communities that are in early stages of acculturation (for example, the Indian immigrant community in the United States), there is a strong temptation to limit theatrical activity to texts and travelling productions from the home country, thus reducing performance mainly to an occasion for nostalgia. The emergence of original and self-sustaining theatre in the diaspora is therefore a slow and difficult process that this course will trace at the levels of form, language, content, dissemination, and reception. We will focus on the generative conditions of dramatic writing as well as theatrical performance in the three Western locations, and attempt to relate the diasporic formations to “mainstream” theatre activities in meaningful ways. The course will emphasize an active engagement with relatively unfamiliar subject matter in the classroom, and the ability to frame meaningful topics for oral presentations and written assignments.

Reading List
Mustapha Matura, As Time Goes By (1971)
Luis Valdez, Zoot Suit (1978)
David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly (1988)
George Seremba, Come Good Rain (1992)
Cherrie Moraga, The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea (1995)
Kwame Kwei-Armah, Elmina’s Kitchen (2003)
Lorena Gale, Angelique (2003)
Ayad Akhtar, Disgraced (2013)
Beyond Bollywood and Broadway: Plays from the South Asian Diaspora (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 2009). [Plays by Jatinder Verma, Asif Mandvi, and Rahul Varma]

Note: For ITS graduate students, this course fulfils the Literature requirement.

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English 850: Proseminar: Introduction to Theatre Studies

Professor Michael Peterson

Wednesdays 8:00am-11:00am

This proseminar for new ITS students and other graduate students pursuing Theatre and Performance Studies minors or research projects seeks to orient students to the practice of graduate study in theatre, offer substantive introductions to the work of key faculty, hone specific skills related to research and writing at an advanced level, stimulate considerations of theatre studies pedagogy, introduce professional practices of the field, enhance scholarly community, and aid in overall adjustment to graduate student life at the UW.

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Sustainability and Resilience and/in the Arts

Professor Laurie Beth Clark

Art 908 Section 1 Mondays 5:00pm-8:00pm

In the light of the 2020 pandemic, there is an increased urgency to consider how human beings foster resilience and cope with uncertain futures.  Through readings and projects, this course will explore the ways that artists engage with ecological issues, social precarity, and other planetary vulnerabilities.  We will look at the work being created in multiple arts media that explores environmental themes and/or participates in resilient practices. We will consider the ways that artists collaborate with one another and with scientists and social scientists to propose pragmatic responses to biopolitical crises, as well as the ways that individual projects that may be less practical or more poetic can still contribute to social change. A further consideration of the course is the sustainability of arts and critical practices in and of themselves, from healthy materials to healthy relationships and healthy institutions: How do we devise ways of working and being that we can sustain across a lifetime?

Gender and Womens Studies 340: “The Performance of Everyday Life: Race, Gender, Aesthetics”‌

T/R 9:30

James McMaster (new faculty this year!)

We are all performing all the time, whether on the street or on social media. This class is designed to help students think both about what the acts and aesthetics of our everyday lives have to do with race, gender, sexuality, and other categories of otherness. The course will approach the performance of everyday life from a variety of theoretical perspectives including psychoanalysis, affect theory, queer and trans theory, care theory, performance theory, critical race theory, and aesthetic theory. Our aim, ultimately, will be to uncover—so that we might intervene in—the uneven power dynamics that we participate in as a matter of course, day in and day out. Assignments will ask students to attend to these dynamics in their own lives as well as in minoritarian cultural production.

[James notes: “I’m imagining the course to be geared primarily toward undergraduates, but I think graduate students could still get a good deal out of it if they were willing to enter the room with that caveat in mind.”]

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ENGL 410 Playwriting‌

M 2:30-5 p.m.

Jen Plants

What is a play? Why do writers choose such a form? What differentiates the language of action required by the stage from other kinds of storytelling? What role do playwrights play in the art of theatrical collaboration? We’ll start with the most basic questions and examine them by experimenting all semester with our own writing for the stage in diverse theatrical genres. Guest artists, attendance at local theatrical events, in-class exercises and readings of student work will be integral to the class structure. Learn more about what forms and writers are popular on the American stage and why, all the while creating short works of your own that will lay the groundwork for further writing and exploration.

Open to graduate students and undergraduates, the course is designed expressly to meet students where they are–whether they be beginners or have ongoing material in development. The Creative Writing prerequisite can be waived–particularly for those with previous experience in theatre. Please contact the instructor for details at

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Gender and Womens Studies / Theatre 415: Feminist Theatre and Criticism‌

T/R 2:30-3:45

Michael Peterson

Focused on very contemporary US feminist drama (Young Jean Lee, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel), this course includes some theory, variable practice components, and attendance/criticism of live performance events, including University Theatre’s production of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe and possibly KRWT’s production of Lisa Loomer’s Expecting Isabel.

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MUSIC 419: Music in the U.S — The American Musical: Genre, Spectacle, Celebrity‌

MWF 11:00 -11:50

Margaret Butler

This course introduces students to the history and development of American musical theater from its origins to the present. Topics we will explore include the formation of the genre and its relationship to American culture and society; the genre as a commercial medium; its principal creators and performers (singers, actors, dancers, composers, lyricists, dramatists, choreographers, and others); its relationship to film; its role in the formation of America’s national identity; and its communication of American values, attitudes, and norms.

[Note: As she has before, Prof. Butler is willing to enroll ITS students under a higher course number and to mentor them so their paper can count as one of their ITS prelim papers.

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Art 511: Art Performance‌

Fridays 12-5

Michael Peterson

A studio-based practice course that aims to help students expand the range of performances they create while drawing on their individual backgrounds and interests. Includes some historical and theoretical readings on “Performance Art”, “Live Art”, and the broad category of performance. Students will make work involving myriad combinations of many of the following elements: text/spoken word, site-specificity, art-life, multi-media (visual and audio) components, collaboration, and narrative. We will critically investigate such themes as confrontation, participation, interactivity, and documentation.

Students will have the opportunity to tailor creative assignments to their own concerns, whether those be creating intimacy and intensity, crafting presence and theatricality, negotiating the neoliberal “experience economy”, or exploring traditional questions for performance art such as duration, presence, and identity. The long Friday afternoon studio structure means we will also have the opportunity for field trips, video viewings, and to share food both in and out of performance.

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English 578: American Drama Since 1914‌

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00-12:15

Room 4208 Helen C. White Hall

Instructor: Professor Aparna Dharwadker

As a field of performance “American theatre” has existed for more than two hundred years, but theatrical activity during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries consisted mainly of transatlantic imports from countries such as Britain, Ireland, and Germany, as well as revivals of major European playwrights, especially Shakespeare. Significant original American drama is said to begin with the generation of Eugene O’Neill around 1916, and has developed over a century into a rich, diverse body of work supported by a variety of commercial and institutional structures. An important aspect of the diversity is a complication of the idea of “Americanness”—following a period of dominance by white male playwrights such as O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee, American drama now includes perhaps the largest concentration of notable women playwrights in the contemporary world, as well as groundbreaking figures from the African-American, Asian-American, Native American, and Chicano communities, among others.

This course will therefore employ the term “American” to define both a distinctive national space and an inclusive creative category for approaching the drama and theatre of the past century. Its focus will be on classic plays by major playwrights of both genders, belonging to “mainstream” as well as “minority” communities. The discussion will attend consistently to drama’s multiple modes of existence—as a printed text meant for readers, as a live performance meant for audiences, and as a text or performance that can now be disseminated ad infinitum through the media of photography, film, television, video/DVD, and the internet.

Tentative Reading List

[There is not enough time in a one-semester course to include all significant American playwrights of the period since 1916. However, additional playwrights, including seminal figures such as Tennessee Williams, Amiri Baraka, Sam Shepard, Wendy Wasserstein, and Paula Vogel, will be covered through lectures and audio-visual materials.]

Eugene O’ Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night (pub. 1956) Lillian Hellman, The Little Foxes (1939)

Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge (1956) Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959) Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962) Luis Valdez, Zoot Suit (1979)

David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (1983) August Wilson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1985)

Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Millennial Approaches (1993) David Henry Hwang, Golden Child (1996)

Susan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog (2001)

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C&I 778: Teaching, Literacies, and Identities‌

Wednesdays 9-11:30

Erica Halverson

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AAS 675, Special Topics: “Women Theatre Artists of Africa and the Diaspora.”‌

Mondays 4:30-7:05

Sandra Adell

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AH 801: Historiography, Theory And Methods In Visual Culture‌

Tuesdays & Thursdays 5-7 PM

Art Lofts 1274

Professor Laurie Beth Clark

This seminar is the core requirement for the graduate minor in the transdisciplinary study of visual cultures. The seminar charts the formation and history of the dynamic, multi-stranded, and still changing field. It seeks to build a practice-based knowledge of the theories and methods important to the field’s formation as well as those driving the field’s future.

You will develop a set of skills in critical reading, research, analysis, writing, and presentation (including visual presentation methods) that will be of use to you throughout graduate school and in your professional life beyond.

Toward these goals, the course has three main dimensions:

As your introduction to the Ph.D. minor here, the course will take advantage of the programming of the Center for Visual Cultures, introduce you to faculty and students involved in the study of visual cultures (building a sense of intellectual community), and introduce you to research resources.

As your introduction to the practices in the study of visual cultures, the course explores the controversies that drove the field’s formation, its complex relations to various disciplines and the issues, challenges, debates fueling the ongoing transformations of the field.

As a practicum, the seminar also emphasizes the development of essential skills in critical reading and analysis, primary and secondary research methods, the writing of various kinds of professional prose, oral presentation, and oral response to questions that are vital to your success in graduate study and future viability in the field.

This course is designed to enhance your professional formation; you are strongly encouraged to navigate the course architecture of readings and assignments according to the needs and dictates of your own research and developing areas of specialization.

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English 851: Advanced Studies In Theatre and Performance Studies Research Topic: Drama, Theatre, Spectacle‌

Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 – 10:45

Mary Trotter

(Meets with ENGL 456 Topic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture)

From “legit” drama to circus performances, American theatre in the nineteenth century was a primary vehicle through which diverse Americans imagined themselves, their histories, and the possibilities for their rapidly changing nation’s future. The legacy of American theatre found in the texts and archival remnants of its melodramas, minstrel shows, musicals, “wild west” shows, and vaudevilles offer important insights into the legacy of theatricality and representation in American culture that continues to inform how “America” performs/is performed locally and globally on TV and film, on stage, and in everyday life. We will learn about playwrights, theatre companies and spaces, actors, stage technology innovations, theatre economics, and audience spectatorship.

This is a great class for students interested in nineteenth-century American literature and history, dramatic literature, popular culture, radio/television/film studies, and theatre and performance studies. Graduate students may take this course for credit toward a PhD Minor in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies. ITS Students may take this course for credit as a theatre history course.

Undergraduate and graduate students will read about two plays per week along with supporting critical and historical texts about American theatre and performance. Graduate students enrolled in ENGL 851 will also complete additional readings, attend two grad-only course sessions (to be scheduled) outside of the regular course time, and write a longer research paper. They also will be excused from at least two class meetings reserved for undergraduates.

Please note that this course will address sensitive and difficult issues. These will include racial and ethnic prejudice, stereotyping and violence on the American stage, including blackface minstrelsy, and those representations’ reflection of and influence on contemporary art and politics.

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English 859: Seminar in Postdramatic Theatre‌

Tuesdays 3:00-6:00

Professor Mike Vanden Heuvel

Course description

“The postdramatic could thus be said to signal a shift in theatre toward form and ‘away from’ drama.”

Since the historical avant-garde, experimental theatre has pointedly shifted away from traditional, text-based drama using aims and strategies that Hans-Thies Lehmann collectively terms “postdramatic.” As well as challenging the primacy of the written script, these performances explore, among other things, nonlinear structures, the “death of character,” new dramaturgical models, the impact of intermediality on live performance, new relations between performance and audience — all with profound consequences for notions of dramatic writing, theatrical presence, the role of the performer, and the experience of the spectator.

Representative artists whose work will be examined may include (Germany/Austria): Peter Handke; Heiner Müller; René Pollesch; Falk Richter; Elfriede Jelinek; (Flanders) Jan Fabre &

Troubleyn Company; Reckless Sleepers; (U.K.) Martin Crimp; Sarah Kane, Gob Squad; Forced Entertainment; Complicite; Blast Theory; (France) Francois Peyret; (Italy) Luca Ronconi, Sociétas Raffaello Sanzio; (U.S.) the Wooster Group; The Builder’s Association; Elevator Repair Service; among others. Issues of postdramatic design, acting and directing will also be featured, and number of theoretical perspectives—on issues related to space, duration, perception, the subject and the body—will ground our investigations.

The course investigates current tendencies in theorizing performance through practice. We begin with Lehmann’s text (first published in 1999 and translated into English in 2006) as a starting point for discussion of a range of issues that his formulation of the postdramatic bring into play: the politics of representation and spectatorship, the nature of vision, the relations between live and mediated experience. As well as developing critical vocabularies for responding to such work (written scores and videos of productions) and conducting advanced theoretical reading and research, students will be familiarized with the critical, artistic and institutional contexts that give rise to, and often contest, the postdramatic.

Student research is conducted through dramaturgical practice, in-class presentations on topical material, media design projects, and a final research project that combines research, critical writing, dramaturgy and/or performance. Students will also lead a discussion and workshop.

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Art 908: Artists As Curators / Curators As Artists‌

Tuesdays & Thursdays 145-415

Art Lofts 1274

Professor Laurie Beth Clark

This is a course for anyone interested in curating as a creative practice. This is a studio class with curatorial projects as assignments but there will be substantial reading exploring a range of perspectives within contemporary curatorial activity. The course will be useful to students of theory and history who are considering curatorial careers but it will have a special focus on artists as curators.

More and more artists have multiple identities as critics, curators, and makers. Artists curate their own work for solo exhibitions and they curate their friends’ work for group shows. Artists may curate shows of their peers as a way of building a creative community, thereby providing logical contexts for their work. Artists serve in curatorial roles in biennials and festivals. Artists are sometimes invited to play with collections (e.g. Fred Wilson and Sophie Calle). And artists use curation as an artmaking strategy, building works from collections of objects. Increasingly, there are practices of virtual curation, where art works are assembled conceptually as lectures or electronic galleries.

Successful curation involves insight, persistence, and judgment. For a show to realize its curatorial intentions, judicious selection, meticulous research, public and often private persuasion, as well as dynamic installation strategies all come into play. The class will consider these pragmatic aspects of curating alongside an array of theoretical issues.

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