Comic Drama (W13)

 Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario

 

English 207:
Comic Drama

 

Andrew Bretz
Office: XXXX
Phone: 519-884-0710, ext. 4461
E-mail: abretz@wlu.ca
Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:00-11:00
Skype ID: andrewbretz
Skype Office Hours: TBA

Course Description:

A study of the main patterns of comedy from its origins to the 20th century.

(From WLU Calendar.)

 

This course will look at the genesis and development of the genre of comic drama from the Ancient Greeks to today, with special attention paid to a series of texts that thematically interlink around constructions and performances of gender and sexuality.  Six representative texts will be supplemented with additional reading on the theory and philosophy of humour and individual periods in the history of the theatre of Western Europe, all of which will be available online.

 

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the historical construction and conditions of comic drama from the Greeks to today
  • Articulate a complex argument on comedy, the philosophy of humour, or a particular comedic text in the form of a research paper.
  • Demonstrate analytical, leadership and oral presentation skills through a short (10-15 minute) research presentation and following group discussion.

 

 

Required Texts:

Aristophanes. Lysistrata. Trans. Douglas Parker. Afterward. Judith Fletcher. New York: Signet Classics, 2009. ISBN: 0451531248

Shakespeare, William. Taming of the Shrew.  Ed. Barbara Hodgdon.  London: Methuen Drama, 2010. ISBN: 9781903436936

Fletcher, John. The Tamer Tamed, or, The Woman’s Prize.  Ed. Lucy Munro.  London: Methuen Drama, 2010.  ISBN: 9780713688757

Wilde, Oscar.  The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. ISBN: 0199535973

Chekhov, Anton. “The Cherry Orchard.” Five Plays. New York: Oxford UP, 2008.  ISBN: 0199536694

Grayson, Kathryn, Howard Keel. Kiss Me Kate. Music, Cole Porter. ASIN: B001PO550A

*Course Readings on Website*

 

Description of Assignments & Value, Due Dates:

Midterm 30
Final Paper 40
Group Presentation 20
Participation 10
 
Total 100

 

Midterm: The midterm exam will be in class and consist of one (1) essay question, chosen from a bank of ten (10) questions as well as a short section of question and answer, where student’s knowledge of the history of the period, dramatic conventions, and generic issues will be tested.  You will have one (1) class period to complete the exam. Write one essay only.  The essay question bank will be handed out to students in class at least a week ahead of time.  If a student has not prearranged an alternate time to take the midterm exam and does not attend the exam during the scheduled time, they will receive a 0% on the exam.  “Prearranged” shall here be taken to mean more than 24 hours in advance.

/30

Essay: The research essay will be approximately 8-10 pages long, on a topic of the student’s choosing.  Students are strongly encouraged to consult with the professor before finalizing a topic and thesis.  Please hand the paper in electronically, via the drop box on Courselink. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that I have your paper.  Those who wish their papers returned to them must indicate so on their papers and make arrangements with me to get the paper back to them prior to handing in their paper.  All papers must be formatted in accordance with MLA guidelines.

/40

 

Group Presentation: The Group Presentation will comprise three parts: the presentation, leading group discussion and the written component.  Students will be expected to do research and synthesize the results of their research in an oral presentation.  I will be looking for accuracy, analytical rigor, and rhetorical ability.  Imagination, as always, is a plus.  Please consult with me before beginning your presentation.

  1. Presentation: Students will choose a topic for presentation and present on that topic on the day assigned (see below). When more than one student wishes to present on a given day, you will comprise a group and will be expected to present as a group.  All presentations, whether individual or group, are to be 10-15 minutes in length.  Individuals in a group will be marked for their individual contribution, not as a group.
  2. Leading Group Discussion: Presenting students will be expected to lead the class in group discussion of the text and the issue at hand for that day. (Some things you might consider would be: How to format the discussion/presentation – as a debate, as a traditional presentation, or something else? How to divide the class to effectively facilitate discussion?  What questions you are planning on asking of the class?)
  3. Written Component: Every individual student will hand in a 2 page summary of their presentation/part of the presentation. In addition to the 2 page summary, students should also hand in a works cited in MLA format.  This will be an integral part of the assessment process, so failure to hand in a written summary will result in failure of the presentation assignment.  The written component MUST be in MLA format.

Presentation/Group Discussion: /10

Written Component: /10

Whole Assignment: /20

 

Weekly Presentation Schedule:

Date,  Presentation Topic Date,  Presentation Topic Date,  Presentation Topic
Jan 7

 

Jan 9

 

Jan 11

The Great Dionysia and the Lenaea

Jan 14

Greek Comedy as Social Critique

Jan 16

Gender vs. Sex

Jan 18

Character Types in New Comedy

Jan 21

The Characteristics of Plautine Humour

Jan 23

Who was the “Lord of Misrule”?

Jan 25

Boy Players in Shakespeare’s Time

Jan 28

Inheritance from Greek New Comedy in Taming of the Shrew

Jan 30

What’s Up with the Induction?

Feb 1

The Four Humors

Feb 4

10 Things I Hate About You

Feb 6

1611

Feb 8

Connections to Lysistrata

Feb 11

Explaining (Away) the Subplot

Feb 13

Scene Study – The Tamer Tamed

Feb 15

MIDTERM

Feb 18

FAMILY DAY – NO LECTURES

Feb 20

READING WEEK – NO LECTURES

Feb 22

READING WEEK – NO LECTURES

Feb 25

Sex Farce to Comedy of Manners – Generic Expansion

Feb 27

What Genre is the Well-Made Play?

Mar 1

What is a Comedy of Manners?

Mar 4

What was Aestheticism?

Mar 6

Revelation as a Comedic Device

Mar 8

The Libel Trial

Mar 11

Scene Study – The Importance of Being Earnest

Mar 13

Does Comedy Require Laughter?

Mar 15

What is a Tragi-Comedy?

Mar 18

Gender and The Cherry Orchard

Mar 20

Scene Study – The Cherry Orchard

Mar 22

Choose a Modernist Avante-Garde Theatrical Movement and Explicate It

Mar 25

Chaplin, Keaton, Pickford – The Silent Comedians

Mar 27

Adaptation for Screen

Mar 29

GOOD FRIDAY – NO LECTURES

Apr 1

Can Sexual Violence Ever Be Funny?

Apr 3

When Is Censorship Appropriate?

Apr 5

Comedy on TV or Stand Up

Apr 8    

 

Participation: A student receiving a 10 or 9 comes to class prepared; contributes readily to the conversation but doesn’t dominate it: makes thoughtful contributions that advance the conversation; shows interest in and respect for others’ views; participates actively in small groups.  For a further breakdown on the Class Participation Rubric, please look at the course website.  Participation grade is completely at the discretion of the instructor.

/10

 

 Weekly Reading Schedule:

 

Date, READING, Topic Date, READING, Topic Date, READING, Topic
Jan 7

Introduction

Jan 9

Philosophy of Humour

 

Jan 11

LYSISTRATA

Origins and Function of Greek Comedy

Jan 14

LYSISTRATA

The Peloponnesian War and Pacifism

Jan 16

LYSISTRATA

Gender in Lysistrata

 

Jan 18

LYSISTRATA

Towards Greek New Comedy

Jan 21

PLAUTUS – SELECTION FROM MENAECHMI (Online)

Roman Comedy

Jan 23

HROTSVITHA – DULCITUS (Online)

Medieval Comedy

Jan 25

TAMING OF THE SHREW

Shakespeare and Feminist Analysis

Jan 28

TAMING OF THE SHREW

Domestic or Romantic Comedy

Jan 30

TAMING OF THE SHREW

The Framing Narrative and Taming of A Shrew

Feb 1

TAMING OF THE SHREW

The Discovery of the Clitoris

Feb 4

TAMING OF THE SHREW

Performance and Adaptation

Feb 6

THE TAMER TAMED

Responses to Shakespeare

Feb 8

THE TAMER TAMED

Lysistratan Themes

Feb 11

THE TAMER TAMED

Dramaturgy

Feb 13

THE TAMER TAMED

Performance History

Feb 15

MIDTERM

Feb 18

FAMILY DAY – NO LECTURES

Feb 20

READING WEEK – NO LECTURES

Feb 22

READING WEEK – NO LECTURES

Feb 25

JOHN GAY – SELECTION FROM THE BEGGAR’S OPERA (Online)

Restoration and Augustan Comedy

Feb 27

To The Well Made Play

Mar 1

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

A Comedy of Manners?

Mar 4

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Language, Rhetoric, Wit

Mar 6

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Identity and Performance

Mar 8

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Wilde as Performance

Mar 11

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Performance History

Mar 13

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

What’s So Funny?

Mar 15

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

Stanislavski, Method, and Comedy

Mar 18

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

Futility and Luxury

Mar 20

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

Performance History

Mar 22

F. T. MARINETTI – THE FUTURIST MANIFESTO (Online)

Theatrical Modernism

Mar 25

BOWREY BOYS “BROADWAY’S FIRST MUSICAL: THE BLACK CROOK”  (Online)

Broadway, Vaudeville, Media

Mar 27

KISS ME KATE

Broadway Conventions and Performance History

Mar 29

GOOD FRIDAY – NO LECTURES

Apr 1

KISS ME KATE

Gender in Kiss Me Kate

Apr 3

KISS ME KATE

Adaptation or Censorship? Theory and Practice

Apr 5

KISS ME KATE

Popular Culture and Comic Drama

Apr 8

Conclusions

   

 

Lateness:        

An assignment is considered “late” if the student and I have not agreed at least 24 hours beforehand to an alternate deadline to the one noted on this course outline.  Students handing in essays late will be docked 5% per calendar day until the essay is handed in or until 10 calendar days have passed, at which time the assignment will receive 0%.  Extenuating medical circumstances will, obviously, be grounds for compassionate waiver of late penalties. Do not hand in papers to administrative offices.  If you hand in a paper under my door, or in my mailbox, then your paper will be docked marks until such time as I retrieve it, which could be up to a week later.

 

Accessible Learning

Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact Laurier’s Accessible Learning Office for information regarding its services and resources.  Students are encouraged to review the Calendar for information regarding all services available on campus.

 

Academic Misconduct

Wilfrid Laurier University uses software that can check for plagiarism.  Students may be required to submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism.

 

FOOT Patrol

 

After evening classes call 886-FOOT for a walk or drive home – No Walk is Too Short or Too Long!!!@