LIT 3043: Modern Drama
Fall 2010 Course Syllabus
David L. Gants
|Office Hours: Wednesdays & Thursdays
09.00-10.30 or by arrangement
Course Description. Drama is one of the oldest forms of cultural expression, an art
whose practices vary across time and place. In this course we will examine European and North
American drama from the end of the Victorian period through today. The goal is to better
understand what differentiates drama from other types of literature, what peculiar strengths
and weaknesses it possesses, and how authors have explored this medium in the last 100+ years.
No experience with theater is necessary, but the centrality of live performance to the
dramatic will form a crucial part of the course.
- Journal (5 points each, 10 points total): I’d like you to keep a reading
journal during the semester in which you will create a running interactive commentary on the
material being covered, posing questions, raising doubts, making connections, seeing
opposing views, expressing confusion and so forth. You should have at least one entry
for each class meeting in which a new play is introduced: Aug. 31, Sept. 7, 14, 21, 28, Oct.
5, 19, 26, and Nov. 2. In addition I'd like an entry for each of the four assigned FSU
performances (Fat Pig, The Drowsy Chaperone, Bus Stop, and If You
Give a Mouse a Cookie). Note that these journals entries are separate from your play
reviews. Each entry sould be in the rage of 150-200 words. The draft contents can be in any
form you wish, but each journal submission should be in word-processed format which you will
upload to our Blackboard site via the Assignments page. Journals are due no later than 14.00
on Tuesday 5 October and Tuesday 23 November.
- In-Class Writing (10 points total): We will begin most classes with a short writing
exercise. These will be informal activities designed to generate thoughts, ideas, and
impressions; they will not be evaluated on quality of prose (grammar, syntax, spelling,
&c.) but rather on what you bring to them from the class materials. This will be the
only paper-based component of the course, so remember to bring something with which to write
- Play Reviews (2-1/2 points each, 10 points total): As part of the work for this
course you are required to attend a performance of the four plays being produced this fall by
the FSU School of Theatre: Fat Pig, The Drowsy Chaperone, Bus
Stop, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. We will discuss each play in class (see
Schedule), but in addition you will write a review in the range of 250-300 words for
each performance. The reviews will be due no later than 14.00 on the day the play is
discussed in class—12 October, 2 November, 16 November, and 23
November—and should be uploaded to our Blackboard site via the Assignments page
- Mid-Term Exam (20 points): On Thursday 14 October 2010 we will have an on-line exam
during our assigned class exam period (14.00-15.15) that will cover the course syllabus up
to that point. I will post the exam questions on our Blackboard Assignments page and you
will have 75 minutes to complete it wherever you wish. The completed exam should be
submitted via the Assignments page. NOTE: on-line exams are not collaborative and
must be completed alone.
- Performance Groups (10 points): I’d like everyone to participate in
performing a scene from one of the plays we examine in class or another of your own
choosing. These won’t require elaborate props or costuming, although feel free to
bring whatever you wish to the task. With prior permission, I will also allow a video
performance of a scene. These scenes will be presented during our final two class meetings
(Tuesday and Thursday, 30 November/2 December). We will discuss the make-up of the
performance groups early in the term and divide up the class based on a method to which
- Final Essay (20 Points): I would like everyone to submit a piece of substantial
writing that examines some aspect of the course. The form this writing will take is up to
you: it may be a formal essay, creative work, or any other type of prose or poetry
associated with your own major. If you choose to write an essay, it should be in the range
of 1000 words and follow one of the recognized citation styles (MLA, APA, etc.). If you
decide to write in a different mode, the final version should reflect an amount of work
similar to a formal 1000-word essay. I urge you to meet with me early to discuss possible
topics. The writing assignment will be due by 14.00 on Thursday, 2 December 2010 and should
be submitted in word-processing form via the Assignments page.
- Final Exam (20 points): On Tuesday, 7 December 2010, we will have an on-line exam
during our assigned class final exam period (17.30-19.30) that will cover the entire course
syllabus. I will post the exam questions on our Blackboard Assignments page and you will
have two hours to complete it wherever you wish. The completed exam should be submitted via
the Assignments page. NOTE: on-line exams are not collaborative and must be completed
Primary Texts.We will use one book for this course:
- The Norton Anthology of Drama. Vol. 2. New York: 2009.
As noted above, you will also be required to attend a performance of the four plays being produced this fall by the
FSU School of Theatre: Fat Pig, The Drowsy Chaperone, Bus Stop, and
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
- Attendance: According to FSU and departmental recommendations, attendance at all
class meetings is mandatory. I reserve the right to adjust the final grade of any student
who fails to attend class on a regular basis.
- Assignments: All assigned readings should be completed by the day they first appear on the syllabus.
- Late work: I am seriously disinclined to accept late assigments without valid
reason. Should circumstances beyond one’s control warrant it, I will on occasion
allow submissions after to due date (and computer problems DO NOT qualify as a valid
excuse). In general, though, I will not accept late work that has not been arranged in
advance. Please note that BlackBoard puts a time stamp on every upload.
- Grading: Final grades will consist of the marks you receive on each assignment
weighted as indicated above.
- E-mail: I will respond to student e-mail messages within 24 hours. However, I ask
that you follow these guidelines:
- Use only your FSU e-mail account when corresponding on class matters;
- Include the course name and number (LIT 3043) in the subject line;
- Include your full name in the body of the message;
- Use complete sentences and basic grammar and syntax whenever possible;
- Before sending any message, please check that your question is not answered in the
- Classroom Decorum: You are welcome to bring food or drink to class (nothing too
stinky please!), just clean up after yourself. As aways, turn off your cell-phone ringer before class.
- Fine print: FSU encourages faculty to consider a class syllabus and associated set
of course expectations as a “contract,” i.e. a set of binding agreements
between teacher and student. In that spirit I encourage everyone to read carefully the
documents associated with this course and to clarify with me any ambiguities,
contradictions, or just plain boneheaded statements found.
- Academic Honor and Americans with Disabilities Act: All students should familiarize
themselves with FSU’s Academic
Honor and Americans with Disabilities Act Policies.