36 units (12 courses)
I. Required courses (5 courses, 15 Units)
1. Drama 5101, Introduction to Graduate Study. A general introduction to advanced scholarship in theater and performance studies, this course is designed to familiarize first-year graduate students with expectations for advanced research and professional writing. It is also intended to provide an overview of theater and performances studies, focusing on the relationship between these two scholarly domains, major works of scholarship that have defined the field, and current debates redrawing its contours.
2. Drama 449, Seminar in Dramatic Theory. This course is an in-depth exploration of core works of dramatic theory from the ancient world to the present, and studies texts that enunciate what theater is, has been, and should be. We will study authors' expressions of theater's role in society, their articulations of and responses to anti-theatrical prejudice, and their negotiations of the contradiction of putting "the real" on stage. Other significant themes include: accounting for the aesthetic pleasures of drama and theatre; theater as a means of educating the citizen; and the relationship between dramatic form and social and political revolution. Moving chronologically, we begin with foundational documents of the ancient world, including Aristotle's Poetics, Bharata's Natyasastra, and Horace's Ars Poetica. The course then progresses through the Middle Ages, the Neoclassical and Romantic eras, and the explosion of fin de siècle avant-gardes. We will also read key texts from beyond the European tradition, including works of dramatic theory written in medieval Japan (Zeami), postcolonial Nigeria (Soyinka), and the millennial, multicultural U.S. (Parks). Along these same lines, we will also be attuned to transnational exchange and influence, particularly as it appears in the twentieth-century theories of Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, and Konstantin Stanislavsky. Though focused on efforts to describe and prescribe theories of drama, dramatic genre, and theatrical pleasure, the course will also position play scripts alongside the theoretical treatises that guide or are guided by them.
3. Drama 497, Performance Theory. This course introduces students to contemporary theories of performance, with “performance” understood as both metaphor and event. From a multi-disciplinary perspective, students will consider how cultures produce meanings—and, indeed, perform those meanings—to create and/or disrupt their own social coherence. Theories likely to be studied include: Philosopher J. L. Austin’s speech-act theory and its engagement by John Searle and Jacques Derrida; anthropologist Victor Turner’s analysis of ritual as social process and Richard Schechner’s use of it to transform “theater studies” into “performance studies;” sociologist Erving Goffman’s sociology of the self and its relation to a post-structuralist model of subjectivity; art historian Michael Fried’s screed against minimalist art and its relation to Happenings, Body Art, Fluxus, and other mid- to late-20th century examples of “performance art;” and philosopher Judith Butler’s influential revision of Austin’s performative in her theory of queer “performativity.”
4. Theater/Performance History. One 400 or 500-level historically-based seminar from a list of approved courses taught within the Performing Arts Department. (Topics vary by semester.) Students are encouraged to meet this requirement with
L15-507, "Problems in Contemporary Theoretical Research."
5. Theater Practice. At least one (but no more than three) 400-level course(s) in theater practice: dramaturgy, directing, playwriting, or design. Students are encouraged to meet this requirement with L15-506, "Problems in Contemporary Arts Practice Research."
II. Electives (7 courses, 21 units)
Students are invited to develop a broad-based or a specialized curriculum in theater and performance studies, choosing courses from within the Performing Arts Department, including Dance, or as many as four courses (12 units) from without. The program works closely with Faculty Affiliates in other departments, including Anthropology, Classics, English and non-Anglophone languages and literatures, Film & Media Studies, Music, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and the Sam Fox School of Visual Design and Art.
III. AM Exam
The AM exam is based on a seminar paper written during the student’s first three semesters in the program, which, under the guidance of a faculty advisor, is extensively revised and expanded into an essay of publishable length (typically 25 double-spaced pages) and publishable quality. After the revised seminar paper has been submitted to and approved by the DGS, the student will meet with a committee of three faculty members (the advisor, the DGS, and a third faculty member, one of whom may be from another department) for an oral exam. Prior to the exam, the candidate will receive from the third committee member a written "reader's report" that emulates the peer review process of academic publishing; he/she will be asked to begin the exam with a response to that report.
Timeline: the seminar paper should be selected by December 15 of the second year. The candidate should meet with the faculty advisor by early January to discuss an expanded secondary reading list. A final draft is due to the DGS by February 28, with a polished final copy to be distributed to committee members by March 15. Oral exams will be held during the first two weeks of April. Candidates are encouraged to take L15-5008, "Graduate Writing Workshop," in the fall semester of their second year in preparation for completing the exam requirement. Once the essay has been corrected, with any further revisions requested by the oral exam committee completed, the candidate should deposit a clean copy in the PAD main office for binding.