[GLAM 200] Ancient Drama: Theory, Practice, and Performance
Although we identify Dionysus (aka Bacchus) today simply as the god of wine (and its concomitant, drunkenness), to the ancient Greeks Dionysiac intoxication could also be seen as a change of consciousness and the eruption of something divine, for the ‘madness’ granted by Dionysus becomes an end in itself. Mania, a Greek word, denotes frenzy, not as the ravings of delusion, but as an experience of intensified mental power. Everyone who surrenders to this god must risk abandoning their personal identity. It seems no accident, then, that Dionysus, who calls into question—and often destroys (if only temporarily)—the cultural norms and boundaries of society and its institutions, whose own gender is rather ambiguous/androgynous/indeterminate, and with whom Passion and Emotion are constant companions, is the god of the theater. Indeed, the ancient Greeks performed their plays as religious rites for, and in honor of, Dionysus. This course explores the genre of ancient drama in its Greek and Roman manifestations. In addition to examining several specimens of ancient dramatic literature – Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, Sophocles’ Ajax, Antigone and Philoctetes, Euripides’ Hekabe, Herakles, Medea, Alkestis, Cyclops, and Bacchae, and Seneca’s Phaedra, Hercules Furens, and Thyestes – through various theoretical lenses (e.g., anthropological, comparative, and gender studies), students also engage the multiple meanings and possible functions of these plays through performance. Indeed, the class culminates in a public performance of an ancient play. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Taught in English. (5T) Offered occasionally.