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Interpreting the Theatrical Past

 

 

 

 

 

School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies

TH316 Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Approaches to Theatre Historiography

2011-2012

Module Convenor: Professor Jim Davis (jim.davis@warwick.ac.uk)

 

 

There will be weekly two-hour seminars in the Autumn and Spring terms.

 

 

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the ways in which we study theatre history. Why do we privilege some periods over others? Why are some aspects of theatre history neglected by scholars? What are the assumptions behind our interpretation of documentary evidence? What choices do we make about the theoretical models we use? How did theatre history emerge as an academic discipline? What sorts of narrative inform our study of theatre history? What factors determine the ways in which we write about theatre history? This module aims to investigate the ways in which the historical study of acting, audiences, theatres and performance are heavily influenced by the assumptions, prejudices and ideological beliefs of those who have written about it. A strong emphasis will be placed on the close reading of set texts and we will also work with the on-line Broadview Anthology of Nineteenth Century Drama

 

Term 1 : PRINCIPLES OF THEATRE HISTORIOGRAPHY

 

 

Week 1: Introduction to Module

 

 

Reading for Week 2

 

Marvin Carson, ‘The Performance of History’, in Case & Reinelt, The Performance of Power, pp.272-279

 

R. W. Vince, ‘Theatre History as an Academic Discipline’ in Postlewait & McConachie, Interpreting the theatrical Past, pp.1-18

 

Joseph Donohue, ‘Evidence and Documentation’, in Postlewait & McConachie, Interpreting the Theatrical Past, pp.177-197

 

Chris Balme, The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Studies, Chapter 6 ‘Theatre Historiography’

 

 

Week 2 Evidence and Documentation

 

Reading for Week 3

 

 

Thomas Postlewait, The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Historiography, Chapters 3 & 4

 

Week 3 Historical and Theatrical Events

 

Reading for Week 4

 

Thomas Postlewait, The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Historiography, Chapter 5

 

Earlier versions of this chapter are in

 

Thomas Postlewait, ‘The Criteria for Periodisation in Theatre History’, Theatre Journal 40:3 (Oct 1998), pp. 299-318

 

Thomas Postlewait, ‘The Concept of “Period Style” in Cultural History: Problems in Definition and Classification’, Nordic Theatre Studies Special issue, 1990, pp.52-5

 

 

 

 

Week 4 Periods and Periodisation

 

 

Reading for Week 5

 

Christopher Balme, ‘Interpreting the Pictorial Record: Theatre Iconography and the Referential Dilemma’, Theatre Research International 22:3 (Autumn, 1997), pp.190-201

 

 

 

Week 5 Iconography

 

 

Week 6 Reading Week

 

Reading for Week 7

 

Thomas Postlewait, ‘Autobiography and Theatre History’ in Postlewait & McConachie, Interpreting the Theatrical Past, pp.248-272

 

Jacky Bratton, ‘Anecdote and Mimicry as History’, in New Readings in Theatre History, pp.95-108

 

Leigh Woods, ‘Actors’ Biography and Mythmaking: The Example of Edmund Kean’’ in Postlewait & McConachie, Interpreting the Theatrical Past, pp.230-247

 

 

 

Week 7 Biography and Autobiography

 

 

Reading for Week 8

 

Edward Said, Orientalism, pp.4-15, 201-211

 

Edward Said, ‘The Empire at Work: Verdi’s Aida’, in Culture and Imperialism, pp.133-155

 

Bruce McConachie, ‘The Oriental Musicals of Rogers and Hammerstein’ in

Theatre Journal 46:3 (Oct 1994), pp.385-398

 

 

Week 8 Theatre History, Theory & Ideology

Orientalism & Imperialism

 

Reading for Week 9

 

Robert K. Sarlos, ‘Performance Reconstruction: The Vital Link between Past and

Future’, in Postewait & McConachie, Interpreting the Theatrical Past, pp. 198-229

 

 

 

Week 9 Performance Reconstruction

  

 

Jim Davis, ed., Victorian Pantomime: A Collection of Critical Essays, Introduction, and

Chapter 1

 

Laurence Senelick, ‘Dames in Pantoland’, ‘Once More into the Breeches’, The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre (London: Routledge, 200), pp. 242-4, 262-5

 

 

 

 

Week 10 Case Study: Historiography of English Pantomime

 

 

Term 2 THE BROADVIEW ANTHOLOGY & PROJECT WORK

 

 

Reading for Week 1

 

Mathews’s Trip to America

 

 

 

Week 1 The Broadview Anthology: Editorial Principles

Mathews’s Trip to America

 

Reading for Week 2

 

Africans (George Colman) & Christy’s Minstrels

 

 

 

 

Week 2 Africans & Minstrelsy

Reading for Week 3

 

Jessie Brown (Boucicault) & Ours (Robertson)

 

 

Week 3 Jessie Brown and Ours

 

Reading for Week 4

 

The Cricket on the Hearth (Smith), Alice in Wonderland & Ibsen’s Ghost (Barrie)

 

 

 

 

Week 4 The Cricket on the Hearth, Alice in Wonderland, Ibsen’s Ghost

 

Reading for Week 5

 

Dorothy (Stephenson, Scott & Cellier); Trilby (Potter) & The Finding of Nancy (Syrett)

 

 

 

Week 5 Dorothy, Trilby and The Finding of Nancy

 

Week 6 Reading Week

 

 

Weeks 7 – 9 Project Work

 

Reading for Week 10

 

Postlewait, The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Historiography, Chapter 7

 

 

 

 

Week 10: Conclusion to Module

 

 

PRIMARY TEXTS

 

Thomas Postlewait, The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Historiography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

 

Thomas Postlewait & Bruce A. McConachie, Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Essays in the Historiography of Performance (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989)

 

The Broadview Anthology o f Nineteenth Century Performance, ed. Tracy C. Davis (on-line resource available through School)

 

SECONDARY TEXTS

 

Peter Burke, What is Cultural History (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1988

 

J. S. Bratton, New Readings in Theatre History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)

 

Charlotte Canning & Tom Postlewait (eds.), Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography (Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2010)

 

Keith Jenkins, Re-thinking History (London: Routledge, 1991, reprinted, 2003)

 

  • Please note texts will occasionally be added to the Department website. Already available (with Jacky Bratton, Gilli Bush-Bailey & Katie Normington, Research Methods in Theatre History forthcoming in a volume to be published by Edinburgh University Press, ed. Baz Kershaw & Helen Nicholson) Set readings not in recommended texts will be accessible through the Librry.

 

 

 

Assessment

 

Seminar Papers, 10% each

 

Essays, Project Work 30%

 

Examination 50%