English 4440/5440: Modern Drama, Spring 2016

TR 3:30-4:45PM, Arts & Sciences 366




Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: MT 5:00-5:30PM and WR 1:00-1:50PM Arts & Sciences 330


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. Undergraduate assignments include a scene analysis, a film adaptation analysis, a research paper, and two exams. Graduate assignments include an annotated bibliography and presentation, a book review, a comparative paper, and a research paper.


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 textbooks (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

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

Kushner, Angels in American, Part 2: Perestroika

required articles (GeorgiaVIEW)

course packet

required films (availability)

Angels in America (Nichols, 2003)

Glengarry Glen Ross (Foley, 1992)

The Homecoming (Hall, 1973)

Long Day's Journey into Night (Lumet, 1962)

M. Butterfly (Cronenberg, 1993)

Miss Julie (Ullmann, 2014)

Six Characters in Search of an Author (Keach, 1976)

A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan, 1951)

Waiting for Godot (Lindsay-Hogg, 2001)

recommended textbook (Amazon)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook, 7th ed.

recommended website

Broadway HD


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4440 Undergraduate Students


scene analysis paper and presentation, 15%

You will pair up to analyze a brief written scene or 2-3 film scene in a 5-6 page formal paper and 7-10 minute formal presentation.

in-class midterm exam, 20%

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

film adaptation paper, 15%

In this 4-6 page paper, you will analyze the film adaptation of a play.

research paper, 25%

You will write an 8-10 page research paper on either 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


annotated bibliography and presentation, 15%

You will sign up to compile an annotated bibliography of an assigned play and teach the class the play.

book review, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will summarize and evaluate, appreciate and interrogate, a book of modern or contemporary drama criticism.

comparison/contrast paper, 25%

In this 8-10 page paper, you will read two other plays by a playwright we've read in class and then compare and contrast a recurrent issue or theme in order to determine the author's world view.

research paper, 35%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper on either an individual play or an issue in modern/contemporary drama and present your work-in-progress paper to the class.


Course Policies



We will use the course site for the syllabus schedule and assignment prompts; supporting documents include an attendance record, a course grade calculation spreadsheet, FAQ, a GeorgiaVIEW walkthrough, a guide to literary analysis, a research methods guide, and paper templates. We will use GeorgiaVIEW for assignment submission and electronic course reserves. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Spideroak to not only save but also archive versions of your work in case of personal computer calamities.


Because this liberal arts course values contemporaneous discussion over fixed lecture, regular attendance is required. Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will fail the course. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond three. 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. Unexcused absences include work, family obligations, and scheduled doctor's appointments. Excused absences include family emergency, medical emergency, religious observance, and participation in a college-sponsored activity. If you have a medical condition or an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss more than four days of class, I suggest you drop this section or risk failure. The university class attendance policy can be found here. You can check your attendance here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

Part of writing in a discipline is adhering to the field's style guide. While other disciplines use APA or Chicago style, literature and composition follows MLA style. In-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted; however, formal assignments and take-home exams must employ MLA style. 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) margins, header, and heading, 2) font, font size, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length (not including Works Cited page) while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a additional one-third letter grade penalty. It is your responsibility to learn how to control your word-processing program. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to the FAQ handout and using the MLA style checklist. Feel free to use these templates that are preformatted to MLA style.

Late Assignments

We're all busy with multiple classes and commitments, and adhering to deadlines is critical for the smooth running of the course. There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I give short extensions if you request one for a valid need 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. Because your completion of this course's major learning outcomes depends on the completion of pertinent assignments, failing to submit an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within a five days of its due date will result in failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in failure of the course.

Academic Honesty

The integrity of students and their written and oral work is a critical component of the academic process. 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." The Undergraduate Catalog defines academic dishonesty as "Plagiarizing, including the submission of others’ ideas or papers (whether purchased, borrowed, or otherwise obtained) as one’s own When direct quotations are used in themes, essays, term papers, tests, book reviews, and other similar work, they must be indicated; and when the ideas of another are incorporated in any paper, they must be acknowledged, according to a style of documentation appropriate to the discipline" and "Submitting, if contrary to the rules of a course, work previously presented in another course," among other false representations. "As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, "since the primary goal of education is to increase one's own knowledge," any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Here is how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology from TurnItIn. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Passing or Failing of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: failing to regularly attend class, plagiarizing, 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 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 Library 228, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Additional Policies

Additional statements regarding the Religious Observance Policy, Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability, Student Rating of Instruction Survey, Academic Honesty, and Fire Drills can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1
T, 1-12


R, 1-14

Strindberg, Miss Julie (Gainor 152-93)

Innes, "Modernism in Drama"

Week 2
T, 1-19

Miss Julie (Ullmann, 2014)

Strindberg, Author's Preface to Miss Julie

Film Analysis

R, 1-21

Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author (Gainor 529-72)


Abel, "Metatheatre: Shakespeare and Calderón"

Recommended: Howe, "The Idea of the Modern"

Recommended: Blazer, "Modernism and Postmodernism"

Week 3
T, 1-26

"Theatre of the Absurd"

Esslin, Introduction, The Theatre of the Absurd

Six Characters in Search of an Author (Keach, 1976)

R, 1-28

Brecht, The Good Person of Szechwan (Gainor 579-652)

Week 4
T, 2-2

Brecht, "The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre"

Recommended: Brecht, "A Short Organum for the Theatre"

Recommended: The Good Person of Szechwan (Folsom Lake College, 2011)

R, 2-4

O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night (Gainor 927-1012)

Watt, "Modern American Drama"

Week 5
T, 2-9

Long Day's Journey into Night (Lumet, 1962)

Davis, "Drug of Choice: Long Day's Journey into Night"

R, 2-11

Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (Gainor 851-920)

Week 6

T, 2-16

A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan, 1951)

Roderick, "From 'Tarantula Arms' to 'Della Robia Blue': The Tennessee Williams Tragicomic Transit Authority"

R, 2-18

Beckett, Waiting for Godot (Gainor 1010-72)

***Waiting for Godot Screenings:

Wednesday, February 17, 5:00-7:00 Arts & Sciences 155

Thursday, February 18, 5:00-7:00 Arts & Sciences 155

Exam Topics

Week 7
T, 2-23

Waiting for Godot (Lindsay-Hogg, 2001)

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

R, 2-25

Undergraduate In-Class Midterm Exam

Graduate Book Review or Comparison/Contrast Paper Due

Week 8
T, 3-1

Schmidt, "The Postmodern Condition of Drama"

Pinter, The Homecoming (Gainor 1092-1143)

In Class Activity: From Modern to Postmodern Drama

R, 3-3

The Homecoming (Hall, 1973)

Krasner, "Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and Postmodern Jewish Philosophy"

Week 9
T, 3-8

Shepard, Buried Child (Gainor 1196-1248)

Watt, "Postmodern/Drama, or the Bankrupt Logic of Empty Marker"

R, 3-10

Fornés, Mud (Gainor 1341-62)

MLA Style

Recommended: Expectant Pause (March 11-12, 8:00PM, Max Noah Recital Hall)

Week 10
T, 3-15

Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (Gainor 1363-1401)

Recommended: Next Fall (March 15-17, 8:00PM, Campus Black Box Theatre)

R, 3-17

Glengarry Glen Ross (Foley, 1992)

Undergraduate Film Adaptation or Research Paper Due

Graduate Book Review or Comparison/Contrast Paper Due

Week 11
T, 3-22

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-24

No Class: Spring Break

Week 12
T, 3-29

Churchill, Cloud Nine (Gainor 1249-1303)

In Class Activity: Theorizing Cloud Nine

R, 3-31

Hwang, M. Butterfly (Gainor 1456-1507)

Week 13
T, 4-5

M. Butterfly (Cronenberg, 1993)

R, 4-7

No Class: Professor at Conference

Week 14
T, 4-12

No Class: Campus Closed Due to Water Main Break

R, 4-14

Kushner, Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches (Gainor 1508-1574)

Undergraduate Film Adaptation or Research Paper Due

Week 15
T, 4-19

Kushner, Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika (Kushner 1-158)

Recommended: Angels in America (Nichols, 2003)

R, 4-21

Parks, The America Play (Gainor 1610-44)

Exam Topics

Week 16
T, 4-26

Albee, The Goat (Gainor 1644-85)

R, 4-28

Albee, concluded

T, 5-3

Undergraduate Take Home Final Exam Due

Graduate Research Paper Due