Lecture: American Drama

Dozenten-innen: Austenfeld Thomas
Kursus: Master
Art der Unterrichtseinheit: Vorlesung
Sprache-n: Englisch
Semester: SA-2020

This lecture class will offer an overview of American drama as a mirror of America's social history. 

Rejected by the original Puritan settlers, American drama first attempted to separate from British models in the early Federal period (Royall Tyler's The Contrast 1787), then took a detour into melodrama (Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon 1859).  From the early nineteen-teens onwards, the Provincetown Players provided a fresh, experimental theater that thrust Eugene O'Neill (Servitude 1914) and Susan Glaspell (The Verge 1921), among others, into the spotlight. A normative American domestic drama was firmly established with Thornton Wilder's Our Town (1938). 

A post-WW II "golden age" of American drama was ushered in by Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie 1944) and Arthur Miller (All My Sons 1947). African American women writers like Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun 1959), Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf 1976/2010) , and Rita Dove (The Darker Face of the Earth 1994) found drama a congenial mode for the expression of simmering racial conflicts. David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly 1988) and David Mamet (Oleanna 1992) explored Asian-American identity and gender-bending along with, respectively, political correctness and sexual harassment, while Tony Kushner's Angels in America (1991) became the lasting expression of the AIDS crisis.

American musical theater established itself as a potent social and economic force with Rodgers and Hammerstein's  Oklahoma! (1943), inaugurating another "golden age" in musicals on and off Broadway. In recent decades, American drama has mutated into episodic "dramas" streamed online.

Along with a dozen or so significant plays that have earned canonical status, we will study key critical interventions from Alexis de Tocqueville to Stephen Sondheim and from Rollin Lynde Hartt to Tony Kushner. 


Most of the dramas will be made available on the  MOODLE  platform