Mrs. Halm’s lodging house has launched a succession of marriages of her daughters with student lodgers. Two students and two daughters yet remain. The theological student Lind, early in Act One, reveals he has fallen in …Read More →
"Universality inscribes itself into a particular identity as its inability to fully become itself: I am a universal subject insofar as I cannot realize myself in my particular identity – this is why the modern universal s…Read More →
When Peer Gynt first appeared in 1867 Copenhagen's influential literary critic, Clemens Petersen, declared the play was "not truly poetry," but nothing more than a piece of polemic journalism. Ibsen, until recently in pove…Read More →
A World Historical Drama by Henrik Ibsen, translated by Brian Johnston. (Lyme, New Hampshire: A Smith and Kraus Book 1999)Read More →
Pillars of Society launches Ibsen’s project of the twelve-play Realist Cycle. Not coincidentally, the subject of the play is that of launching a great project: - Karsten Bernick’s secret plan, the railway line, that wi…Read More →
A Doll House (Et dukkehjem) usually is acclaimed as a work of sturdy social realism for which a thorough study of the history of civilization, literature and art would be superfluous. How do these requirements help us fat…Read More →
“The key note is to be: The prolific growth of our intellectual life; in literature, art, etc. – and in contrast to this: the whole of mankind gone astray. [Ibsen, Note to Ghosts.]Read More →
The play's expanding circumferences of action encompass individual and family histories, social divisions, the surrounding natural world of retreating forests, lakes and marshes inhabited by the wild duck and its fellow cr…Read More →
The extreme precision with which Ibsen shaped his plots reminds us that Ibsen’s plays are primarily works of art, artifacts. Rosmersholm tells a passionate human story, involving psychological, social, political and metap…Read More →
Life is apparently a happy, easy and lively thing up there in the shadow of the mountains and in the monotony of this seclusion. Then the suggestion is thrown up that this kind of life is a life of shadows. No initiative…Read More →
The impression one gets from a précis of the play’s story is of its fundamental absurdity. A young woman of twenty three shows up, dressed in ‘mountain-climbing attire', at a middle-aged architect’s house with a preposte…Read More →
Little Eyolf reveals parallels with the section, ‘Plants and animals as objects of religious consciousness' where Hegel revisited pantheist traditions within Hindu religion. The pantheist phase, Hegel declares, is the “Re…Read More →
John Gabriel Borkman demonstrates the essential Ibsen method...It is a very intricate lattice of urgent interrelationships. The conflict itself stands for a collision of forces, of ideas of life.Read More →
Courses in Drama
These articles follow a classroom lecture format, not of scholarly publications with footnotes and sources dutifully acknowledged. The site seeks to be friendly to students of drama interested in discussions of playwrights and dramatic texts. Naturally, I have drawn upon previous scholarship and interpretation but, for the most part, I substantiate my arguments with evidence from the the plays themselves. My main purpose is to present a selection of dramatists representative of what are seen as significant developments in the art of drama, beginning with its origins in classical Athens.
The course, therefore, is divided into four sections, based on the Survey format of classes at Carnegie Mellon University from 1986 to 2006.
- Greek (Athenian) Drama
- European Drama (Medieval to Spanish Golden Age)
- European Drama (Neoclassical to Romantic)
- Modern Drama (Ibsen to 20th Century); - Modern Arab Drama.
Apart from the section on Modern Arab drama, this is a ‘traditional’ Western oriented course. There are other areas of world drama - such as African-American, Native American, Arab-American, African, Asian and Middle Eastern theatre and drama, etc., etc.; and such subjects as feminist, gay, and varioius minority theatres that infuse their vitality into the contemporary theatre. I am interested in all these; but others are more competent to speak on them, have more interesting things to say, and with better authority than I can muster. They would figure in any adequate Drama Course that includes much not outside interest but outside my range of expertise. Such an ideal course requires a team effort.
This, therefore, does not claim to be an adequate course on drama: it deals only with what I feel competent to speak about and believe I have something of interest to say. I hope this disclaimer forestalls objections that the offered course overlooks huge territories of rich and important work. My dramatists are, I must confess, mostly dead and, perhaps more deplorably, various shades of white. The theatre of the modern world, for better or for worse, has evolved from mostly western forms and practices. Read more...