DRAM20200 Contemporary American Drama

Academic Year 2021/2022

Beginning in the period post WW II and continuing right up to the present, this module traces and explores the development and influences of contemporary theatre in North America, and the scope of its cultural, historical, political and theoretical dimensions. Students will be introduced to a range of play texts that exemplify the complexities of American life. The overall aim of the course is for students to critically evaluate the plays, both thematically and dramaturgically leading to a broader understanding of the various experiences, identities, ethnicities and perspectives expressed in contemporary American theatre. The plays that are studied will consist of traditional works of American drama that are considered classics in the canon, combined with less mainstream works. These more experimental works represent other voices, marginalized groups and ideologies in the U.S. that link to issues such as class, race, gender, and sexual orientation. While focussing on how texts reflect themes as well as how they experiment with form and content, the module offers students a critical understanding of the historical, socio-political and aesthetic views that constitute contemporary American theatre.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Through studying the play texts, lectures as well as critical reading, students will become familiar with texts that reflect the complexities of contemporary American drama within its political, sexual and ethnic contexts. On completion of this module, students will have a comprehensive understanding of the continuity and development of contemporary American theatre from after WWII right up to the present day.

Indicative Module Content:

Lecture 1 Introduction – Tuesday 11th September

Lecture 2 Indigenous North American Theatre and the Musical

Lecture 3 The Performance of the American Dream, the Salesman Trope and Realism –

Lecture 4 The American Dream from an African-American Perspective, and Language-

Lecture 5 The Feminist Perspective and the Theatre of the Avant-garde/Absurd-

Lecture 6 The Performance of Black Masculinity and Poetic Realism

Lecture 7 The Voices of Black Feminism as a Choreopoem

Lecture 8 Gender Wars and the Modern Tragedy

Lecture 9 Marginalization: The Gay Female Jewish Perspective, and the History

Lecture 10 Racial Identity: Chinese/Asian American Experience, and Satirical Comedy

Lecture 11 The Performance of Queerness, and Burlesque

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Students will engage in task-based learning; lectures; critical writing. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Students will submit written points on readings weekly. Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: A final essay based on module readings. Week 12 n/a Graded No


Assignment: A mid-term essay on course readings. Week 6 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive written feedback post-assessment.

Green Grow the Lilacs (1930) by Lynn Riggs
Oklahoma (1943) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
Death of a Salesman (1949) by Arthur Miller
A Raisin in the Sun (1959) by Lorraine Hansberry
Fefu and her Friends (1977) by Maria Irene Fornes
Fences (1985) by August Wilson
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf (1976) by Ntozake Shange
Oleanna (1992) by David Mamet
Indecent (2015) by Paula Vogel
Yellow Face (2007) by David Henry Hwang
The Lily’s Revenge (2009) by Taylor Mac

Name Role
Ms Catherine Casey Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Eamonn Jordan Lecturer / Co-Lecturer