The module aims at offering an overview of late-nineteenth- to twentieth-century English drama and theatrical culture, as well as at presenting the students with the basics of textual analysis.
On successful completion of the module, students will achieve a good knowledge of the cultural context in which the texts included in the programme were composed. They will be able to develop a coherent and detailed interpretation of the texts, apply key methods and concepts relevant to textual analysis, and provide a plausible critical interpretation in a register and style that serve the context and intention.
A century on the stage: from Shaw to Pinter.
The module will deal with a selection of nineteenth and twentieth-century dramatic texts in order to offer an overview of the English stage, theatrical culture and practices from the late nineteenth century to the second half of the twentieth century. Starting from the tradition of the well-made play the module will then explore George Bernard’s Shaw comedy of ideas. The next step of the investigation will lead to William Butler Yeats’ symbolist theatrical experiment and will be carried on by looking at later twentieth-century theatre practices such as such as Arnold Wesker’s social drama as well as Samuel Beckett’s and Harold Pinter’s dramaturgy that deliberately abandons rational constructs and refuses the logical and consequential function of language.
Please be advised
Students are required to do all the readings indicated in the three sections below: 1. Primary Texts, 2. References, 3. Handbook.
Further details on required readings and general information on bibliographical material will be provided during classes.
Language: the module will be held in English.
Futher material will be available for download from the MOODLE e-repository.
1. Primary texts (any English edition)
- G.B. Shaw, Mrs Warren’s Profession
- G.B. Shaw, Candida
- W.B. Yeats, At the Hawk’s Well (available for free download at: https://archive.org/details/fourplaysfordanc00yeatuoft)
- S. Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape
- A. Wesker, The Kitchen
- H. Pinter, The Room
- P. Raby, “Theatre of the 1890s: breaking down the barriers”, in The Cambridge Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Theatre, ed. by Kerry Powell, CUP, 2004, pp. 183-206.
- K. Powell, “New Women, new plays, and Shaw in the 1890s”, in The Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw, ed. by C. Innes, CUP, 1998, pp. 76-100.
- B. O’Donoghue, “Yeats and the drama”, in The Cambridge Companion to William Butler Yeats, ed. by M. Howes and J. Kelly, CUP, 2006, pp. 101-114.
- P. Lawley, “Stages of identity: from Krapp’s Last Tape to Play”, in The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett, ed. by J. Pilling, CUP, 1994, pp. 88-105.
- G. Leeming and S. Trussler, The Plays of Arnold Wesker. An Assessment, Victor Gollancz, 1971, pp. 25-42.
- A. Rayner, “Harold Pinter: Narrative and Presence”, Theatre Journal, Vol. 40, No. 4 (December 1988), pp. 482-497 (available on Jstor – see MOODLE for instructions).
- K. Elam, The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama, Routlegde, 2005, pp. 1-113.
As regards the literary and cultural context spanning from 1830 to 2010 (from the Victorian Age to the present), students will refer to:
- A. Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature, Oxford University Press, 2003 (third edition): from chapter 7. “High Victorian Literature” to chapter 10 “Post-War and Post-Modern Literature”, included.
|William Butler Yeats||At the Hawk's Well||Macmillan||1916||Testo primario; scaricabile gratuitamente all’indirizzo: https://archive.org/details/fourplaysfordanc00yeatuoft / Primary text; available for free download at: https://archive.org/details/fourplaysfordanc00yeatuoft oppure https://archive.org/details/fourplaysfordanc00yeat|
|George Bernard Shaw||Candida||qualsiasi edizione in inglese / any English edition||1898||Testo primario / Primary text|
|Alice Rayner||“Harold Pinter: Narrative and Presence”||Theatre Journal, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 482-97||1988||Testo secondario; pp. 482-497; disponibile su Jstor – v. istruzioni per l’accesso su MOODLE / Secondary text; pp. 482-497; available on Jstor – see MOODLE for instructions|
|Samuel Beckett||Krapp's Last Tape||qualsiasi edizione in inglese / any English edition||1958||Testo primario / Primary text|
|George Bernard Shaw||Mrs Warren's Profession||qualsiasi edizione in inglese / any English edition||1894||Testo primario / Primary text|
|Kerry Powell||“New Women, new plays, and Shaw in the 1890s”, in The Cambridge Companion to George Bernard Shaw, ed. by C. Innes||Cambridge University Press||1998||Testo secondario; pp. 76-100 / Secondary text; pp. 76-100|
|Paul Lawley||“Stages of identity: from Krapp’s Last Tape to Play”, in The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett, ed. by John Pilling||Cambridge University Press||1994||Testo secondario; pp. 88-105 / Secondary text; pp. 88-105|
|Peter Raby||“Theatre of the 1890s: breaking down the barriers”, in The Cambridge Companion to Victorian and Edwardian Theatre, ed. by Kerry Powell||Cambridge University Press||2004||Testo secondario; pp. 183-206 / Secondary text; pp. 186-203|
|Arnold Wesker||The Kitchen||qualsiasi edizione inglese / any English edition||1959||Testo primario / Primary text|
|Glenda Leeming, Simon Trussler||The Plays of Arnold Wesker. An Assessment||Victor Gollancz||1971||Testo secondario; pp. 25-42 / Secondary text; pp. 25-42|
|Harold Pinter||The Room||qualsiasi edizione inglese / any English edition||1957||Testo primario / Primary text|
|Keir Elam||The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama||Routledge||2005||Testo secondario; pp. 1-113; Secondary text; pp. 1-113|
|Andrew Sanders||The Short Oxford History of English Literature||Oxford, Oxford University Press||1994||Manuale; terza edizione; cap. 7-10, inclusi / Handbook; third edition, ch. 7-10, included|
|Bernard O'Donoghue||“Yeats and the drama”, in The Cambridge Companion to W.B. Yeats, ed. by Marjorie Howes and John Kelly||Cambridge University Press||2006||Testo secondario; pp. 101-114; Secondary text; pp. 101-114|
The exam will consist in an oral discussion (in English) that will test the knowledge of the module’s topics (texts, authors, and genres) and the literary and cultural context (3. Handbook; main authors and movements from the Victorian Age to the present) as well as the use of an approriate vocabulary. Students may be required to read and comment on passages taken from primary texts (Bibliography: 1. Primary texts).
There will be no mid-term tests.