Summer 2006

HUMS 651
Irish Plays and Politics


07/17/2006 - 08/03/2006
Monday-Thursday 06:30 PM - 09:30 PM

Thea Studios/Dsgn 101 - Jones

The tumultuous relations between the Irish and the British, through colonialism to the establishment of an independent Irish Republic, are reflected in Irish plays and politics of the last three centuries, most significantly at the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798; then a hundred years later with the Irish Renaissance and the founding of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin; and finally during the decades of the Uprising, Civil War, and formation of the Irish Republic leading to the present Irish "Tiger" economy and identity. We will track these developments through Irish plays, histories, and criticism. Seminars will begin with a brief introduction by the professor to place the plays in context, followed by play reading, and ending with lively discussion.

Readings for the first week include plays by John O'Keeffe, R. B. Sheridan, and Stewart Parker. In the second week, we will study the Irish renaissance through the plays of J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, and W. B. Yeats. For the third week readings include plays by Sean O'Casey, Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, and Marie Jones. Texts for the course also include: Christopher Morash, A History of Irish Theatre: 1601-2000; Modern Irish Drama, a Norton Critical Edition, ed. John P. Harrington; J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays; Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The School for Scandal and Other Plays; John O'Keeffe, Wild Oats; Marie Jones, Stones in His Pockets; Stewart Parker, Plays:2 Northern Star, Heavenly Bodies, Pentecost.

Students are expected to read in advance all the reading assignments for each day, to participate in live readings and discussions; to write a response paper (3 pages) at the end of each of the first two weeks regarding one of the playwrights for that week; and, at the end of the third week, write a final 7-page paper researching a question regarding the plays and politics in Ireland at any one historical moment.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Gay Smith (B.A., M.A. University of Hawaii; Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles), professor of theatre emerita, is author of the theatre and cultural history, Lady Macbeth in America: From the Stage to the White House (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2010), and seminal books on George Sand's theatre work. Professor Smith has worked professionally as a dramaturg for over thirty years with the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, Denver Performing Arts Center, Padua Hills Playwrights in Los Angeles, and 7-Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho. She has translated, adapted and directed plays by Moliere, Beaumarchais and Sand. Her current book projects are "A Painter (Degas), an Actress (Rejane) and the Dreyfus Affair," and an anthology , "Irish Plays and Politics." Before her twenty-year tenure on Wesleyan's faculty, Professor Smith chaired the theatre departments at California State University, Los Angeles, and the University of LaVerne.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
John Harrington, MODERN IRISH DRAMA (W.W. Norton & Company), Paperback

Christopher Morash, A HISTORY OF IRISH THEATRE 1601-2000 (Cambridge University Press), Paperback

Richard Sheridan, THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL AND OTHER PLAYS (Oxford University Press), Paperback

J.M. Synge, THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD AND OTHER PLAYS (Dover Publications), Paperbaack


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