When you read a poem, you’re making contact with language in a pure form, minus the prose fillers like “In this paper I will say three things.” The difference is like the difference between real ice cream and icecreamish stuff from the discount freezer, glopped and stickied with gelatin and corn syrup and xanthan gum. The real thing (that would be the poetry) not only tastes better, it’s better for you.
Likewise, when you experience drama on the page or the stage or the screen, you’re making contact with human nature in a pure form. The only thing between it and you will be language – and in the language of drama, nobody says prose stuff like “In the kiss I am now going to give you, I will accomplish three things.” Like the real ice cream, the dramatic kiss will not only be more fun, it will be better for you.
We’ll see that for ourselves by learning to read language for its human realities. Our texts will be an anthology of poetry, an ancient epic poem about learning who we are by living the lives we have been granted, and three plays about people who make themselves into what they are by telling themselves stories about themselves – some of the stories good, some of them bad.
Four five-page papers, midterm and final. Texts:
The Norton Anthology of Poetry, shorter edition
Homer, The Odyssey
Shakespeare, Richard II
Anton Chekhov, Three Sisters
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest