School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies
TH316 Theatre and National Identity
This module’s overarching question is how English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish theatre institutions, playwrights, theatre-makers and performance artists have engaged with conceptions of the nation, nationalism and national identity during the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries. The module will explore how theatre has contributed to the construction and reappraisal of the nation and national identities through the sites it occupies, the stories it tells and the representations it offers. In particular, this module will explore the fact that ideas of the nation are constantly in flux, subject to the play of history and politics, and that the way theatre engages with the nation changes according to different geographical, political, economic, social and cultural circumstances. The module will begin by introducing key theories on the nation and national identity before looking at plays and performances hailed as seminal ‘state of the nation’ works or celebrated as offering a distinct national identity by reclaiming histories, local dialects and indigenous cultural traditions. This will be followed by a consideration of plays and performances that renegotiate concepts of nation in various ways. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, there is increasing evidence of theatre and performance challenging the very idea of the homogenous nation state by asking important questions such as: who is being excluded, in class, race, gender and regional terms, from the depictions of national identity offered? How can work that explores concepts of national identity also be alert to the importance of difference and plurality? How can we theatricalize the nation in an age of globalization, mass migration and mediatisation? The module will consider these questions in relation to a range of performance forms: plays, devised works, site-specific performance, live art and performance installations.
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
• Discuss the ways in which late twentieth century and twenty-first century performance artists, theatre practitioners and playwrights have explored ideas around nation and national identity in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
• Identify key themes and theatrical strategies that reoccur in plays and performances emanating from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern that are concerned to explore, negotiate and contest ideas of nationhood.
• Demonstrate an understanding of how key conceptual frameworks can inform the creation and analysis of contemporary theatre/performance.
• Analyse a wide range of plays and performances in relation to their historical and cultural contexts.
• Engage in research-based investigation of appropriate primary and secondary source material.
• Communicate what they have learnt both orally and in writing.
Nadine Holdsworth (n dot holdsworth at warwick dot ac dot uk)
Friday - 1100-1300 - G56
Assessment [50% examined]
50% - Written Examination (3 hours)