Unit 4: Drama While elements of both poetry and narrative are present in drama, we will now encounter and account for a new dimension in cultural and literary studies: performance. Over the course of this unit, we will sample plays that exemplify different types of dramatic structure, acquainting ourselves with the basic elements of drama and the many purposes it can serve.
Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 27 hours to complete.
☐ Subunit 4.1: 8 hours
☐ Subunit 4.1.1: 2 hours
☐ Subunit 4.1.2: 1 hour
☐ Subunit 4.1.3: 5 hours
☐ Subunit 4.2: 11.5 hours
☐ Subunit 4.2.1: 2 hours
☐ Subunit 4.2.2: 3 hours
☐ Subunit 4.2.3: 5.5 hours
☐ Subunit 4.2.4: 1 hour
☐ Subunit 4.3: 7.5 hours
☐ Subunit 4.3.1: 1 hour
☐ Subunit 4.3.2: 4 hours
☐ Subunit 4.3.3: 2.5 hours
Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - explain contemporary drama’s roots in Greek theater; - list, compare, and contrast a host of dramatic terms necessary to understanding the nature and function of theater; and - explain the differences among a variety of genres of theater (i.e., tragedy, comedy, romance) and be able to compare and contrast forms of theater from a range of historical periods.
4.1 Basic Elements of Drama 4.1.1 Classical Roots: Greek Tragedy - Reading: Reed College: Walter Englert’s “Ancient Greek Theater”
4.1.2 Term Toolkit: Chorus, In Media Res, and Other Essentials to the Study of Drama and Theater - Reading: Robert DiYanni’s Literature: “Glossary of Drama Terms” and Encyclopedia Britannica’s “In Medias Res” Link: Robert DiYanni’s Literature: “Glossary of Drama Terms” (HTML) and Encyclopedia Britannica’s “In Medias Res” (HTML)
4.1.3 The Unities of the Play - Reading: Project Gutenberg’s version of Sophocles’ *Oedipus the King* Link: Project Gutenberg’s version of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (PDF)
4.2 Drama and Communal Purpose 4.2.1 Tragedy and Ancient Greek Society - Reading: Grant Valley State University: Dr. Mike Webster’s “Tragedy: The Basics: An Introduction to Greek Tragedy and Greek Society” Link: Grant Valley State University: Dr. Mike Webster’s “Tragedy: The Basics: An Introduction to Greek Tragedy and Greek Society” (HTML)
4.2.2 Religious Ritual and the Mystery Plays in Medieval England - Reading: University of Arizona: Dr. John C. Ulreich’s “Medieval Mystery Plays” Link: University of Arizona: Dr. John C. Ulreich’s “Medieval Mystery Plays” (PDF)
4.2.3 Elizabethan Theatre and Class Relations - Reading: Bartleby’s version of William Shakespeare’s *Hamlet* Link: Bartleby’s version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (PDF)
4.2.4 Why is Hamlet a Tragedy? The answer to this question may seem obvious, but as you will recall from your reading in subunit 4.2.1, tragedy can be defined by language and characters as much as plot.
- Activity: Critical Essay Instructions: Print out and annotate Dr. Mike Webster’s essay “Tragedy, the Basics.” Then, return to Hamlet and take notes on any parts of the play that either support or refute the play’s status as a tragedy. Afterwards, write a 1.5-page critical essay in which you explain why or why not Hamlet should be categorized as a tragedy.
4.3 Drama in the Twentieth Century 4.3.1 Overview of Trends in Twentieth-Century Theater - Reading: Excerpts from Bertolt Brecht’s “Modern Theater Is Epic Theater” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.
4.3.2 Post-Modern Drama - Reading: Samuel-Beckett.net’s version of Samuel Beckett’s *Waiting for Godot*
4.3.3 Theater Culture Today - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Introduction to Postmodern Western Theater”