Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG340H1F  L0101  T11-1, R11
Modern Drama
Professor Max Uphaus

Brief Description of Course: This course explores how ideas about the nature and purpose of drama changed in tandem with the major social, political, intellectual, and artistic transformations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will survey the innovations in dramaturgical theory and practice pioneered during this period by Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, Oscar Wilde, Luigi Pirandello, and Bertolt Brecht; examine several early twentieth-century Irish plays as a case study of drama’s role in constructing and critiquing national identity; and consider the different ways in which historical dramas by Bernard Shaw, C. L. R. James, and T. S. Eliot use the theatre as a means of reflecting on and reassessing the past in the light of the present..

Required Reading: Eight Modern Plays, ed. Anthony Caputi (Norton; contains Ibsen, The Wild Duck; Chekhov, Three Sisters; Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author; and Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children; Modern and Contemporary Irish Drama (Norton; contains W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, Cathleen Ni Houlihan; J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World; and Sean O’Casey, Juno and the Paycock); George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan (Penguin); C. L. R. James, Toussaint Louverture (Duke University Press); T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral (Harcourt); Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (online); W. B. Yeats, On Baile’s Strand (online).

First Three Authors/Texts: Eight Modern Plays (Ibsen and Chekhov), Wilde.

Method of Instruction: Lecture/discussion.

Method of Evaluation: Short essay (20%), final essay (40%), scene presentation (15%), reading quizzes (15%), class participation (10%).

Site Information:

Site Tools:

Click below for directions to the University of Toronto!

University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Map of St. George Campus
Map of Mississauga Campus
Map of Scarborough Campus