Topic outline

  • General

    Staging the Apocalypse

    Brenda Foley

    T, TH 10-11:20

    In this course we will explore the ways in which contemporary playwrights portray a vision of the secular apocalyptic. As with Vaçlav Havel's assessment of Absurdism, apocalyptic plays can be read as "not scenes from life, but theatrical images of the basic modalities of humanity in a state of collapse."  We'll take an expansive perspective on the definition of "apocalyptic" and use as a frame works from other disciplines such as Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake, the poetry of Japanese women following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in White Flash/Black Rain, and the BBC docudrama Threads. Prerequisite: None


    Oryx and Crake, Atwood

    Blasted, Kane

    A Journal of the Plague Year, DeFoe

    Ditch, Steel

    Mercy Seat, LaBute

    Landscape with Weapon, Penhall

    Saved, Bond

    Arsonists, Frisch (Crimp adaptation)

    White Flash, Black Rain, Vance-Watkins

    Effect, Prebble

    In the Heart of America and Other Plays, Wallace

    Far Away, Churchill

    Les Blancs, Hansberry

    Harvest, Padmanabhan


    This is a discussion-based class therefore attendance and reading of the material is essential for individual accomplishment as well as the success of the class as a whole. Readings and discussions: 30%, Midterm paper 20%, Projects 25%, Final project 25%

  • Sept. 5

     Introduction to the syllabus

    Apocalyptic Landscape Discussion - or Was Chicken Little onto Something?Photography Assignment (due next class)

    Begin reading A Journal of the Plague Year (due Sept. 17th)

    • Sept. 10

      Discuss photography projects: An Apocalyptic Landscape Here at Home

      Read One Flea Spare (due next class the 12th)

      • Sept. 12

        Read aloud Chalky White Substance

        Discuss One Flea Spare

        A Journal of the Plague Year due next class (17th) 

        • Sept. 17

          Discuss A Journal of the Plague Year - each student brings in a discussion point

          Read What Use are Flowers in Les Blanc and view Land of Hope (Japanese film on Hulu) and write a 1-2 response paper for next class (19th)

        • Sept. 19

          Discuss What Use are Flowers and Land of Hope film

          Read White Flash Black Rain and do poetry/landscape project for next class (24th)

          Attend Pavel Zustiak's performance, ENDANGERED PIECES,  on Sat. 21st at 7:00 at NEYT downtown - AND write a 1-2 page response paper due in the next class (24th)

        • Sept. 24

          Discuss landscape/poetry projects and Pavel’s play

          Read Arsonists for next class (26th)

          • Sept. 26

            Discuss Arsonists 

            Read Saved for next class (Oct. 1)

            • Oct. 1

              Discuss Saved

              Read Blasted for next class (Oct. 3rd)

              • Oct. 3rd

                Discuss Blasted and Kane's constructed landscape of violence

                NO CLASS ON OCT. 8th -

                MIDTERM PAPER DUE OCT. 10th

                • Oct. 10

                  8-10 page MIDTERM PAPER DUE - group discussion of papers

                  Read Ditch for the next class (Oct. 15th)

                  • Oct. 15

                    Discuss Ditch 

                    Read Mercy Seat, view Ever Since the World Ended and write a 1-2 page response paper for next class (Oct. 17th)

                    • Oct. 17

                      Discuss Mercy Seat and Ever Since the World Ended

                      Start reading Oryx and Crake (due Dec. 3rd)

                      NO CLASS NEXT TUESDAY - HENDRICK'S DAYS!

                      BUT be sure to attend luciana achugar's performance of OTRO TEATRO in Whittemore on Oct. 23rd at 7:00 AND response paper to it DUE on Oct. 29th

                    • Oct 24th

                      luciana achugar in class to discuss her work-in-progress Otro Teatro

                      youtube project due the next class (29th)

                      • Oct. 29th

                        Discuss youtube projects

                        DUE next class (Oct. 31) read Far Away and watch Threads

                      • Oct. 31st

                        Discuss Far Away and Threads

                        DUE next class: read Harvest

                        • Nov. 5th

                          Discuss Harvest

                          DUE next class (7th): read Landscape with Weapon

                          • Nov. 7th

                            Discuss Landscape with Weapon

                            Due next class (12th): movie marathon - BOTH 28 Days Later AND 28 Weeks Later and write a response paper.

                            • Nov. 12th

                              Discuss movie marathon

                              next class: WORKSHOP with visiting artist playwright and Sleeping Weazel artistic director, Charlotte Meehan



                              • Nov. 14th

                                Workshop with Charlotte Meehan

                                DUE next class (19th) read The Effect

                                • Nov. 19th

                                  Discuss The Effect

                                  Due next class: watch The Quiet Earth and write a response paper

                                  • Nov. 21st

                                    Discuss The Quiet Earth

                                    Due next class: site specific projects

                                    • Nov. 26th

                                      Site-specific assignment due

                                      Due next class: Oryx and Crake and write a response paper

                                      • Dec. 3rd

                                        Discuss Oryx and Crake

                                        Due next class: Final Projects

                                        • Dec. 5th

                                          Final Projects Group 1

                                          • Dec. 10th

                                            Final Projects Group 2