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Course Info

  • Course Number / Code:
  • 21L.703 (Spring 2004) 
  • Course Title:
  • Studies in Drama: Stoppard and Churchill 
  • Course Level:
  • Undergraduate 
  • Offered by :
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    Massachusetts, United States  
  • Department:
  • Literature 
  • Course Instructor(s):
  • Prof. Diana Henderson 
  • Course Introduction:

  • 21L.703 Studies in Drama: Stoppard and Churchill

    Spring 2004

    Course Highlights

    This course features downloadable discussion questions for each of the readings.

    Course Description

    What is the interplay between an event and its "frames"? What is special and distinctive about stage events? How and why do contemporary dramatists turn back in time for their settings, models, and materials? How do they play with this material to create performance pieces of importance and delight for modern audiences? How do they create distinct, fresh perspectives using the stage in an era of mass and multi-media? What is the implied audience for these plays, and how does that clash or coincide with actual audience expectations and responses? What information do we "need to know," and what do we need to know that is not information? If words circulate, can meaning be stable? What is the relationship between pleasure and responsibility? What are the politics of stagecraft in our time? Is the theater really dead? What '60s pop song includes the previous question?

    Focusing on two of Britain's most respected and prolific contemporary dramatists, Caryl Churchill and Tom Stoppard, we will explore these and other questions involving literary history, interpretation, and performance. As well as carefully reading and discussing selected plays, the class will create (collectively) an archive of material to enrich our understanding of the texts and their contexts-a sort of "Notes Toward a Supreme OCW Site." (The last phrase is an example of citation à la Stoppard; it may be just frivolous-or maybe not.)


This course content is a redistribution of MIT Open Courses. Access to the course materials is free to all users.

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