Women in Theatre

This is a hybrid course meant to instruct students in critical writing and also to introduce students to issues and periods in theatre history and theory. The theme for this section is Women in Theatre. Students will learn about the changing constructions of women over time, beginning in the late nineteenth century and moving to the present. By reading and investigating popular European and American plays as sources for the depiction of women, the course will ask students to understand differences in waves of feminist thought, gender and queer theory, and considerations of women of color. We will look for iterations of these in performance texts (plays) and in production and performance choices (when possible.) We will discuss the way presentations of female characters, such as Blanche DuBois, resist, challenge, or reflect gender issues and theories of the play’s time and of the contemporary period.

Contact Megan Geigner at megan.geigner@gmail.com.

Geigner_Women in Theatre

4 thoughts on “Women in Theatre

  1. What a fascinating range of plays and critical writing! I’m impressed by the juxtapositions you’ve arranged between artistic and theoretical approaches – the pairings indicate an overtly feminist approach, as opposed to a more general focus on women in theater.

    I’m intrigued by the IMDB/IBDB assignment and curious to hear more about this.

    A couple of questions:
    It is clear that this is an academic course that focuses on critical writing skills, but have you given any thought to introducing an assignment that promotes an embodied understanding of strategies for staging feminist ideas? It might dovetail with the aim of training students to better articulate their practical production choices.

    Have you considered assigning critical writing from first wave feminism? The question of whether or not to do this is something I struggle with – I’m curious about different strategies for providing students with an understanding of changing representations of women in theater and with evolving feminist ideologies.

  2. Great syllabus. I like the inclusion of Streetcar and Good Person, and the classic Mulvey essay since the question of representation has been so crucial to feminist interventions in theatre re: questioning the ideologies of the apparatus.

    Jessica, Great questions… I use Writing Across the Curriculum principles so, like Megan, I wind up assigning a lot of writing (and was glad to see the final writing assignment is scaffolded!). Aside from performance or presentation-based assignments, I think there are opportunities for embodied learning in class exercises… acting out scenes and making on-the-spot blocking choices, “talk show” panel discussion of ideas, debates etc.

    Re: the First Wave, I hope we get to this at the conference. Is it “just” for context or do we take the time to deeply explore this time frame?

  3. I like how you frame this class in terms of “the changing construction of women over time,” and I am curious to hear about the conversations and paper topics that the plays generated in relation to that topic. I also an intrigued by the Jezebel article with which you start the semester. (In a way, it seems to answer the questions posed in Talya and Gwen’s syllabi about feminism’s continued relevance.) What were your motivations for starting with this piece? What were some student responses to it?

  4. Yes I would also like to hear about the article “What Does It Mean if Feminism Becomes
    Trendy.” I think it might be a good compliment to the NYTimes article I will be adding to my syllabus this Fall…

    Also very interesting to see a critical skills class taught as a women and theatre class. As always, I am intrigued to see what kind of students this attracts and how the class is shaped to meet the particular student body that it gathers…

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