Theatre and Ideas - DR683

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
View Timetable
6 30 (15)







This module will ask students to critically engage with fundamental questions about theatre, such as 'what is performance?', 'who decides what a performance means?', 'why do we care about the fates of fictional characters?', 'why do we enjoy watching tragic events on stage?', 'what ethical questions does performance raise?', 'can performance be a kind of philosophy?'. After writing an essay focussing on one of these questions, the class will then turn its attention to a specific performance text and the various conceptual and philosophical questions that arise from it. Once they have engaged with a range of theoretical perspectives on the text the course will culminate in an assessed presentation where the students propose a production which engages with these issues.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 48
Private study hours: 252
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay (3500 words) (40%)
Group Presentation (40%)
Seminar Diary (2500 words) (20%).

Indicative reading

Critchley, S. (2004) Very Little…Almost Nothing. (2nd Edition). London: Routledge.
Cull, L. & Lagaay, A. (2014) Encounters in Performance Philosophy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Esslin, M. (1970) Theatre of the Absurd: Revised and Enlarged Edition. London: Penguin Books
Lamarque, P. & Olson, S. (2004) Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art: The Analytic Tradition. London: Blackwells.
Ridout, N. (2009) Theatre & Ethics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Stern, T. (2013) Philosophy and Theatre: An Introduction. London: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- Demonstrate an ability to combine creative and conceptual ideas in a cogent and coherent manner.
- Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the relationship between theoretical and philosophical ideas and performance practice.
- Demonstrate a deep understanding of the ways in which performance can support or enrich a critical understanding of theoretical ideas.
- Express themselves articulately orally, in debate and discussion, and in writing through the development of sustained argument and the use of ideas at the forefront of the discipline.
- Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and systematic understanding of key aspects of ethical, aesthetic and political philosophy and its implications for performance.

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