DRAMA 371 A: Theatre History I

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
HUT 130
Guillaume Tourniaire
Guillaume Tourniaire

Syllabus Description:

Drama 371: History of the Theatre, I




Dr. Odai Johnson                                                    Office hours: T/Th 10:30-11.20, or

Hut 109                                                                      Wednesday, by appointment        

543-5140                                                                   odai@u.washington.edu



This course, the first in a three quarter sequence, is designed to explore European theatre and theatre culture from ancient Greece and Rome (circa 500 BCE - 200 CE), through the theatre practice of the Middle Ages, and the emergence of the first professional theatre in Elizabethan England and Spain in the Golden Age.  It’s a long sweep and the intention of one of introduction and exposure.   To this end, we will reading representative plays of each period, discussing the history, politics, performance, and the large and enduring legacy of the various traditions.





Grading is based on a 400 point scale, divided between four components: 100 points for the mid-term; 100 points for the final; 100 points for the final research paper/project; and the remaining 100 points is based on your in-class participation.  Participation is defined as your active presence in the class and it’s discussions.  This means being prepared with the readings in advance.  Attendance alone will not net strong participation points.  If you are ever in doubt about your standing, please see me and let’s discuss it.  As we only meet twice a week, the pace is quick. It is imperative that you maintain good attendance.  If, for pressing emergencies, you cannot make class, please notify me in advance, and schedule office time when you return to catch up. 


Grading is computed on a 10% scale, thus 400-360 total points = A range; 359-320 = B range; 319–280 = C range, etc.





History of the Theatre, any edition, Oscar Brockett and Frank Hildy (note: this text will be used over all three quarters of the history sequence), available at the UW Bookstore, and several copies on reserve in the Drama Library.   The Oresteia, a collection of three plays, is also available at the UW bookstore.




We will be reading the following plays:


The Cyclops, Euripides

The Bacchae, Euripides

The Oresteia, Aeschylus  (Agememnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenidies)

Antigone, Sophocles

Lysistrata, Frogs, Aristophanes

Dyskolos, Menander   (Old Cantankerous)

The Haunted House, Plautus

Tropes - the Visit to the Sepulchre

Dulcitius, Hrosvitha of Gandersheim

Cycle Plays:   The York Crucifixion, Noah’s Flood, The Second Shepherd’s Play


Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe

A Representative play by William Shakespeare

Fuenteovejuna, Lope de Vega



As there is no convenient anthology of the plays for this course, a course packet has been created contain a collection of the plays as well as some supplemental reading.  It is available at Ram Copy Center, 4141 University Way.    The only plays not in the packet is the trilogy, Oresteia.  This trilogy is available at the University Bookstore.


Many of these plays (as well as the source materials in the course packet) can be found in good condition online, or at used bookstores and purchased for a fraction of the price, I have appended a brief list of -


Good Used Bookstores


Magus  (1408 NE 42nd)

Half Price Books (4709 Roosevelt)

Cinema Books (4753 Roosevelt)

Globe Books (5220 B University Way)

University Bookstore (used section)

Third Place Books, (20th NE and 65th, Ravenna)

Seattle Book Center  (3530 Stone Way)





If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Students Services, 448 Schmitz, 543-8924.  If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability we can discuss the accommodations you might require.




As a courtesy, please do not bring food into the class.  This is a classroom, not a cafeteria.  We will have a break each class session to get you through the trials of the long afternoon.  Oh, and please remember to silence your phones!


1) Plays


The Cyclops, Euripides

The Bacchae, Euripides

Antigone, Sophocles

Lysistrata, Aristophanes

The Frogs, Aristophanes

Dyskolos, Menander

The Haunted House, Plautus

Tropes - the Visit to the Sepulchre

Cycle Plays:   The York Crucifixion, Noah’s Flood, The Second Shepherd’s Play


Dulcitius, Hrotsvitha

Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe

Fuenteovejuna, Lope de Vega                                         



2)  Articles



1) "What Child is This?", from Arthur Evans, The God of Ecstasy

2) “Images of Women”, from Sarah Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves

3)  From Aristotle's Poetics

4) "The Gladiators’ Profession”, from Michael Grant, The Gladiators.

5) ‘What would you die for?’ : the Passion of St. Perpetua

6) Terror and Genocide in Roman drama





Week One:  September 27

Thursday: introduction and overview to the class; the classical Greek world


Week Two, October 2-4

            Tuesday: start on ‘Theatre and Drama in Ancient Greece’, in Brockett; read The Cyclops by Euripides;


            Thursday:   Read The Bacchae, Euripides; read ‘What Child is This?’ from The God of Ecstasy.


Week Three, October 9-11: Tragedy

            Tuesday:  The Orestiea, by Aeschylus (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides)

            Thursday: cont. Orestiea


Week Four, October 16-18:

            Tuesday:  Antigone, Sophocles

            Thursday:  Read  Lysistrata, by Aristophanes


Week Five, October 23-25, Hellenistic and Roman Comedy

            Tuesday:   Read 'Roman Theatre and Drama,' in Brockett; read The Dyskolos, Menander 

            Thursday: Read, The Haunted House, Plautus


Week Six, Oct 30 - Nov 1


            Tuesday: Roman Blood-sports; Read, The Passion of Perpetua (What would you die for?)

            Thursday, Nov. 1: Mid-term


Week Seven, November 6-8,   Beyond Rome,

            Tuesday:  The collapse of Empire, the rise of the Church; begin ‘European Theatre and Drama in the Middle Ages’ in Brockett.

            Thursday, liturgical drama.  Read, the tropes: visit to the sepulcher; read Hrotsvitha's Dulcitius.


Week Eight, November 13 - 15

            Tuesday, Corpus Christi, Read Noah, Second Shepherd’s Play

            Thursday, Read Everyman


Week Nine, November 20

            Tuesday:   Reformation; the Elizabeth emergence; read from ‘English Theatre from the Middle Ages to 1642' in Brockett;   Read Doctor Faustus


            Thursday:   THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY



Week Ten, November 27-29

            Tuesday:   the first Professional theatres; Shakespeare

            Thursday:   Shakespeare


Week Eleven, December 4-6  

            Tuesday: The Spanish Golden Age, read from ‘The Spanish Theatre’ in Brockett

            Thursday, Fuenteoevejuna


Papers due:   Monday, Dec 10, (5:00 pm)


Final: Wednesday, December 12, 4:30-6:20



Catalog Description: 
Explores the history of European theatre and theatre culture from ancient Greece and Rome, through the High Middle Ages, to the emergence of the first professional theatres in Elizabethan England and Spain in the Golden Age. Prerequisite: DRAMA 201.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:03pm