ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Fall 2020, Section 004 - The Theatre of US Women?s Liberation
Instruction Mode: Section 004 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


Modern women’s liberation in the United States emerged from fire of the New Left and Black Power in the 1960s-70s, and the theatre provided one of the movement’s most vigorous weapons.

This seminar will explore theatre and performance works created alongside or in response to radical (sometimes called “second-wave”) feminism in the US. Whether through “street theatre” protests, performance art, or more recognizable dramatic forms, feminists regularly turned the theatre into a weapon for smashing patriarchy and building sisterhood. Examining their theatrical accomplishments, we will ask such questions as: How did the theatre change to accommodate the insights of women’s liberation? What effect did phrases like “the personal is political,” “identity politics,” “consciousness raising,” and “patriarchy” have on the way theatre was made? What makes a feminist play—and how does the answer change depending on what feminist principles one is upholding? How did feminists represent class, race, sexuality, and solidarity on their stages? How did playwrights from later decades remember the early flourishing of women’s liberation, and how differently did it look in memory than in practice?

Our readings will be representative feminist theatre works alongside political manifestoes and social and literary analyses, as well as samples of the feminist theatre criticism that emerged in their wake. Playwrights may include Valerie Solanas, Karen Malpede, María Irene Fornés, Rochelle Owens, Sonia Sanchez, Martha Boesing, Ntozake Shange, Split Britches, Karen Finley, Wendy Wasserstein, Lily Tomlin, and Young Jean Lee.

Course Requirements:

No prior experience with feminist texts or with theatre and performance is necessary. Engaged and open-hearted discussion is required. Assignments will include discussion questions posted before class, interpretive essays of course texts, and a longer final project that may be creative.

Intended Audience:

Online-only students are welcome!

Class Format:

Exams: Asynchronous and Online

Lectures: Asynchronous and Online

Class Discussions: Synchronous and Online


ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Schedule Listing
002 (LEC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
003 (LEC)
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
Note: Course instruction is remote and synchronous. Enrolled students are expected to be available remotely during scheduled class times.
004 (LEC)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
006 (LEC)
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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