Upcoming Course Offerings

Here is a listing of relevant courses taught by ITS faculty in the coming term, with descriptions where available. Information subject to change—be sure and check the official course guide as well. Recently offered courses are listed on this page.

This is not an exhaustive list of relevant courses; students should consult with their advisors about other possibilities. Planning is underway for the coming semester–please let us know if there are courses or topics you’d like to advocate for.

ITS and Related Courses: Fall 2020

Click on course titles for information and description.

  • NEW ADDITIONS descriptions coming soon :
    • Slavic/T&D/C&I 362 T/Th 4-5:30 (Vilas) Drama For Teaching and Learning. Note: Graduate Student Section. Professor Manon van de Water.
    • LitTrans/T&D 423 T/TH 6-8:00 (Vilas with audiovisuals) Slavic Drama in Context Note: Translation-no previous knowledge of Russian required. Professor Manon van de Water.

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.

(back to list)

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. 

(back to list)

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 adharwadker@wisc.edu

(back to list)

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.

(back to list)

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.

(back to list)

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?

(back to list)