SoSe 19: Gender and Race in American Theater of Protest
Information for students
This course runs from 4:00 to 6:45 p.m. (s.t.)
Since the nineteenth century, race and gender relationships in US society underwent profound transformations. The abolitionist movement, Women’s suffrage, the anti-lynching movement, women’s ... read more
Since the nineteenth century, race and gender relationships in US society underwent profound transformations. The abolitionist movement, Women’s suffrage, the anti-lynching movement, women’s liberation, the gay rights movement, and the overturning of state-sanctioned racial segregation during the Civil Rights and Black Power era changed the social-political landscape. -----
The LGBTQ Movement, Black Lives Matter, the recent Women’s Marches on Washington, and now the Students’ March for Gun Control have invigorated supporters of these causes (and their opponents), among other, through intensely performative approaches to political activism. Each of these movements brought forth major playwrights, developments in dramatic genres, and performance traditions with female artists and activists frequently in the forefront. -----
Framed by theoretical and historical readings, in this seminar we will investigate the various ways the struggles for racial and gender equality are intertwined, forms of cross fertilization between protest movements and theater/performance genres as well as examine if and how these interrelations change widely-held historical narratives and affect specific political change. -----
We will read plays predominantly by female authors that emerged from and parallel to protest movements and watch (iconic and lesser known) performances that are centered on protest. Playwrights, theater artists and groups included (but not limited to) are George Aiken (his play adaptation of Harriet Beecher-Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”), Marita Bonner, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Susan Glaspell, Alice Childress, Paula Vogel, Susan Lori-Parks, transgender performer Rose Wood, The Free Southern Theater, The Living Theater, San Francisco Mime Troupe, Bread & Puppet, Split Britches, and WOW Café Theater. -----
To contextualize these works with the political shifts in US society throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century we will also engage with historical predecessors to which artists and activists relate as well as with opposition to the major protest movements such as the anti-gay and anti-abortion activism of the Westboro Church.
Theoretical readings and discussion topics will cover a broad range of intellectual approaches such as critical race, gender, and performance studies, economics of production, and methodologies associated with theater history and analysis, and historicism. -----
Each student will give a presentation, lead a discussion of one class, and write a research paper.