English 4440/5440: Modern Drama, Spring 2010

Section 01 (CRN 20242/20243): TR 3:30-4:45PM, Arts & Sciences 366


Professor: Dr. Alex E. Blazer



Phone: 478.445.0964


Office: Arts & Sciences 330

Office Hours:

MW 5:00-5:30PM A&S 330,

T 12:30-1:45PM A&S 330,

R 12:15-1:30 Blackbird, by appt


Course Description


The undergraduate course catalog describes English 4440/5440 as "A study of selected modern plays in English." In this course, we will study not only modern but also contemporary plays, and we will inform our understanding of them with theoretical essays on modern and contemporary drama.


This course's Academic Assessment page describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

Note that this course is cross-listed as THEA 4440; this course's prerequisite is ENGL 2110 or IDST 2305.


Course Materials


required (GCSU Bookstore or

Brandt, ed. Modern Theories of Drama

Gainor, ed. et al., The Norton Anthology of Drama, Vol. 2


Gibaldi, MLA Handbook, 7th ed.

required (online)

supplemental articles


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4440 Undergraduate Students


close reading of a scene or film adaptation, 15%

In this 4-6 page paper, you may either perform a close reading of a scene of any play we've read or analyze the film adaptation of one of the recommended screenings.

in-class midterm exam, 25%

In the first exam, you will perform both thematic readings of individual plays as well as comparisons among modern plays.

annotated bibliography, 10%

You will research and annotate 10 works of scholarly criticism to help you write your research paper.

research paper, 25%

You will write a 9-10 page research paper on a play read in class (but not one written on previously) or another play by one of the playwrights studied in class.

take-home final exam, 25%

In the second exam, you will perform both thematic readings of individual plays as well as comparisions among contemporary plays.


5440 Graduate Students


take-home midterm exam, 35%

You will perform both close readings of individual plays and comparisons between modern plays in the take-home midterm exam.

presentation, 10%

You will select, research, and teach a theoretical article on contemporary drama as well as lead class discussion of its application to a particular play.

book review, 10%

You will write a 4-6 page book review like those published in scholarly journals. Choose a book written on one of our primary texts or a book written on modern or contemporary drama.

annotated bibliography, 10%

You will research and annotate 15 sources to help you write your research paper. At least 10 of the sources should be criticism of the primary text and some sources may be theoretical articles you will apply to your interpretation of the primary text. Each 75-100 word annotation should provide the source's interpretive thesis and methodology and also tell how the source could be helpful for your research paper.

research paper, 35%

You will write a 15-20 page research paper entering, engaging, and advancing the scholarly discourse of a modern or contemporary play either discussed in class or selected by you and approved by the professor. Your essay should be worthy of being presented at a conference, integrate at least seven secondary sources, and apply at least two theoretical articles.


Course Policies


Class Preparation and Participation

I expect you to come to class having read, annotated, and reviewed the assigned reading. Moreover, you should prepare at least two comments and two questions for each reading. We're going to be working with challenging texts; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our ideas and questions. If I feel that you're not participating because you're not keeping up with the reading, I will give a pop quiz.

Office Hours and Professor Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, literature, or life. I'm happy to answer minor questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. Please use email etiquette.

GeorgiaVIEW and Student Email

We will be using GeorgiaVIEW for assignment upload and GCSU email for class communication (please do not send email inside GeorgiaVIEW). It is your responsibility to learn GeorgiaView as well as to check your university email for possible course related messages.

MLA Style

Formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style while in-class exams; discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout. I encourage students to use my MS Word template.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond three days. Therefore, missing four class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing seven classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Excuses like work, family, and scheduled doctor's appointments will be declined. The only acceptable excuses are death in one's immediate family and one's own medical emergency. If you participate in an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss class, I suggest you switch sections now. You can check your attendance online by looking for your course number and the last four digits of your student identification number.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days (not class periods) of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.


Do not do it. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." Section 3.01 of the Academic Affairs Handbook elaborates other examples of academic dishonesty and outlines disciplinary procedures and appeals for academic misconduct. As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, any student found guilty of willful plagiarism will fail the assignment and the course. Students must submit all formal papers to

Failure of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.


The last day to add a course is Wednesday, January 13. The last day to drop a course without fee penalty is Friday, January 15. The last day to withdraw without academic penalty (unless previously assigned an F by professor for absences) is Monday, March 8.

Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability

If you have a disability as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, you may be eligible to receive accommodations to assist in programmatic and physical accessibility.  Disability Services, a unit of the GCSU Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, can assist you in formulating a reasonable accommodation plan and in providing support in developing appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access to all GCSU programs and facilities. Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist you in meeting the requirements.  For documentation requirements and for additional information, we recommend that you contact Disability Services located in Maxwell Student Union at 478-445-5931 or 478-445-4233.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Lanier Hall 209, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Fire Drills

Fire drills will be conducted during the semester.  In the event of a fire alarm signal, students will exit the building in a quick and orderly manner through the nearest hallway exit.  Learn the floor plan and exits of the A & S Building.  Do not use elevators.  Crawl on the floor if you encounter heavy smoke.  Assist disabled persons and others if possible without endangering your own life.  Assemble for a head count on front lawn main campus.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so check back in class and online for possible revisions.

Plays are available in the Norton Anthology of Drama; articles are available in GeorgiaVIEW or the Norton Anthology; film adaptations are available through Netflix.


Week 1
T, 1-12


R, 1-14

Strindberg, Miss Julie [1888] (153-94)

Innes, "Modernism in Drama" (online)

Watt, "Modern American Drama" (online)

Recommended Screening of Miss Julie (5:30-7:30PM, A&S 366)

Week 2
T, 1-19

Strindberg, concluded

Strindberg, Author's Preface to Miss Julie [1888] (89-98)

R, 1-21

Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author [1921] (487-530)

In Class Activity: From Character and Setting to Representation and Reality

Recommended Screening of Six Characters in Search of an Author (5:30-7:15PM, A&S 366)

Week 3
T, 1-26

Pirandello, concluded

R, 1-28

Brecht, The Good Person of Szechwan [1938-40] (579-652)

Week 4
T, 2-2

Brecht, concluded

Brecht, "The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre..." [1930] (224-31)

Brecht, "A Short Organum for the Theatre" [1948] (232-46)

Horkheimer and Adorno, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" (online)

R, 2-4

Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire [1947] (681-752)

In Class Activity: From Character and Setting

Recommended Screening of A Streetcar Named Desire (5:30-8:00PM, A&S 366)

Week 5
T, 2-9

Williams, concluded

In Class Activity: To Theory and Theme

R, 2-11

O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night [1957] (927-1012)

Recommended Screening of Long Day's Journey into Night (5:30-8:30PM, A&S 366)

In Class Activity: Diagraming Dysfunction

Week 6

T, 2-16

O'Neill, concluded

Beckett, Waiting for Godot [1954] (843-906)

Recommended Screening of Waiting for Godot (5:30-7:30PM, A&S 366)

R, 2-18

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 7
T, 2-23

Beckett, concluded

Haney, "Beckett Out of His Mind: The Theatre of the Absurd" (online)

R, 2-25

Undergraduate: In-Class Midterm Exam

Graduate: In-Class Midterm Exam Assigned

Week 8
T, 3-2

Schmidt, "The Postmodern Condition of Drama" (online)

Pinter, Old Times [1970] (1013-1042)

In Class Activity: From Modern to Postmodern Drama

R, 3-4

Pinter, concluded

Braunmuller, "A World of Word's in Pinter's Old Times" (online)

Week 9
T, 3-9

Shepard, Buried Child [1978] (1097-1150)

In Class Activity: Contemporary Realism

R, 3-11

Shepard, concluded

Baudrillard, "Simulacra and Simulations" (online)

Westgate, "Negotiating the American West in Sam Shepard's Family Plays" (online)

Recommended: Ade, A Question of Taste (Max Noah Recital Hall, Friday-Saturday, 3-12/13)

Week 10
T, 3-16

Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross [1983] (1253-92)

Mamet, "Realism" (online)

In Class Activity: Influences and Ideas

Recommended Screening of Glengarry Glen Ross (5:30-7:15PM, A&S 368)

R, 3-18

Mamet, concluded

Lublin, "Differing Dramatic Dynamics in the Stage and Screen Versions of
Glengarry Glen Ross" (online)

Week 11
T, 3-23

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-25

No Class: Spring Break

Week 12
T, 3-30

Hwang, M. Butterfly [1988] (1407-58)

Recommended: Ensler, The Vagina Monologues (Max Noah Recital Hall, Tuesday-Thursday, 3/30-4/1)

R, 4-1

Hwang, concluded

Recommended Screening of M. Butterfly (5:30-7:15PM, A&S 366)

Week 13
T, 4-6

In Class Screening of Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches

R, 4-8

In Class Screening of Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches, continued

Recommended Screening of Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika (5:30-8:30PM, A&S 366)

Week 14
T, 4-13

Kushner, Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches [1991] (1459-1528)

Nutu, "Angels in America and Semiotic Cocktails of Sex, Bible and Politics" (online)

Undergraduate: Last Day to Submit Close Reading or Film Adaptation Paper

Graduate: Book Review Due

Graduate: Book Reviews from Textual Practice

Recommended: McDonagh, The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Russell Auditorium, Wednesday-Thursday, 4-14/15)

R, 4-15

Parks, The America Play [1994] (1529-62)

Recommended: The 24 Hour Plays (Max Noah Recital Hall, Saturday, 4-17)

Week 15
T, 4-20

No Class: Work on Annotated Bibliography

Undergraduate: Annotated Bibliography Due

Graduate: Annotated Bibliography Due

R, 4-22

Albee, The Goat [2002] (1563-1604)

Week 16
T, 4-27

Churchill, A Number [2002] (1605-28)

Undergraduate: Research Paper Due

Graduate: Abstract Due

***Bring your laptops to complete course evaluations

R, 4-29

Churchill, concluded

R, 5-6

Undergraduate: Take-Home Final Exam Due by 2:00PM

Graduate: Research Paper Due by 2:00PM