Theatre 323/English 349

Winter 2014

MW 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm, 2439 WDC

Department Phone: 764-5350

Dr. E.J. Westlake

Office Phone: 764-3118

email is the best way to reach me

Office: 2408 WDC


Office Hours: M 2:30-3:30 pm, other random times like every 3rd T, virtually (by email)

or by appointment:


 Required Texts:

American Drama, Watt/Richardson


[or the plays we read in it individually]


Angels in America, Tony Kushner




Web page:


videos that we watch in class, also available for viewing at the Film and Video Library (and I'm working on making them available online).


- articles posted on CTools




 Suggestions for where to buy the plays – haga clic ici



Course Objectives: In this course we will read and discuss plays that have been written and performed in the United States from colonial times to the present. Most of the plays cover a wide spectrum of American life and ideology. We will discuss the content, the form, and the performances of the plays as they bear upon the formation of an American identity, especially with regard to race, gender, and sexuality.


Attendance Policy: In this course I will mix discussion, lecture, and group projects. I will not repeat information that is already in the reading, but rather, use the texts as a springboard to talk about other issues. Because you are expected to share your thoughts about the reading and about your own observations, you must come to class prepared. You will only get out of this course what you put into it.


Attendance Option: I will give you the option to declare within the first four weeks of class your intention to not have attendance count toward your final grade. In other words, you can miss class all you want and your participation grade will only count against you if you decide to come and are disruptive. You will be responsible for getting notes from your classmates and learning the material on your own. If you chose this option, you are doing so at your own risk and I cannot guarantee that you will be able to pass the exams. I'm just saying.



Grading Scale (900-point scale if no-attendance option is taken):




100 pts

Group Project


100 pts

Midterm Exams

20% each

400 pts

Final Paper


200 pts

Final Exam


200 pts













All assignments must be completed to pass the course. Plus and minus grades are given at my discretion.


Participation: The classroom is a forum for the exchange of ideas. It is also a supportive learning community. Part of your grade depends on your ability to contribute to the class in a positive way. You will not be required to talk (I have great empathy for introverts). But you do need to be engaged.

For details on grading, consult this page.


Laptop Use Policy - you may use a laptop in my classroom for taking notes. Please consult this page for my complete policy on laptop use. Your laptop must be closed during group project presentations.


Tips for Communicating - Generally, I'm pretty good about returning email. Please consult this page for tips on communicating with me effectively.


Group Projects

There are two possibilities for the project:

1)    Acting Scene: You may present a short scene to the class of your assigned play. In addition to performing the scene, you must prepare a short presentation on your research to the class. You may talk to the class about your acting choices, the playwright, the time in which the play was written, the time in which the play is set, or any number of things relating to the play. Lead the class in an intelligent and thoughtful discussion about the play. Presentations without discussions will not receive anything higher than an 89 for a grade.

2)    Design Concept: Each member of the group presents a series of color drawings or models which illustrate one of the plays on the attached list. After you present your illustrations or models, speak to the class about your research. The research can be about your design choices or about any of the above topics. Lead the class in an intelligent and thoughtful discussion about the play. Presentations without discussions will not receive anything higher than an 89 for a grade.

Note: If there is an electronic component to your presentation (video, PowerPoint, etc.), you must submit a copy to me for your group to receive a grade.

Please limit your presentation to no more than 30 minutes of class time.


Final Paper: Choose a topic pertaining to American drama. It should be 1900 - 2400 words, typed and double-spaced. Please do not use some weird font. Stick with courier, Times, Garamond, or something that is easy to read. Please choose 11 to 12 pt font. Use the MLA as a style guide and include a bibliography that shows that you have read hard sources. You must use at least 5 hard (not web pages) sources excluding the excluding the play or plays you are discussing. Two of those sources must be journal articles. The paper should be thesis driven. I will give you some possible topics/thesis-statements. I will not accept papers that are just close readings of the literature. If you write about plays, the paper must demonstrate an understanding of the literature within its cultural, political, and practical context. It is best to email me and discuss your ideas. Use the writing resources posted on my web page. You must submit this assignment electronically.


Midterm and Final Exams: These consist of simple multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. Do the reading, come to class, and you should do fine on them. It is possible to fail them, however, so do study. I highly recommend taking notes in class, when watching videos, and when doing the reading. I care a lot about themes, metaphors, character motivations, inciting incidents, and other details within the plot and dialogue of the plays. Only a doctor's note, disability documentation, family emergency, or a professional engagement will excuse you from taking an exam at its scheduled time.


Final Exam: Wednesday, April 30th,  1:30– 3:30 pm regular classroom

Alternate Exam Time: Thursday, April 24th, 4 – 6 pm, place TBA


Plagiarism: If you don't know what constitutes plagiarism, please consult the MLA Handbook. Failure to cite sources can result in a failing grade or in expulsion from the University. If you paraphrase the idea of another, use another scholar's words, or consult a source, you must cite the source in your writing. Do not use a paper you have used for another course without consulting me. If you are even thinking about taking a shortcut, read this page. More information on the consequences of plagiarism is on the web page. I do catch people, even those who think they have been careful. Please be reminded that ignorance of the rules does not constitute a valid excuse for committing the offence. When in doubt – cite it!


I do not accept late assignments, nor do I offer extra credit work. However, if you are having trouble keeping up - please email me. I would much rather you come and talk to me than let your work slide. I am in during my office hours, and I can be easily reached by email. You will find I am usually pretty agreeable if you take the initiative and communicate with me.


Disability Accommodations

If you need any special accommodations for a documented disability, please see me to discuss them in the first week of class. If you have a conflict with my office hours, we can arrange an alternate time. To set up this meeting, please contact me by email. Bring a copy of your documentation to the meeting. If you do not consult with me ahead of time, I cannot guarantee accommodations. This University will make accommodations according to the law as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act.


For more information, visit the website for Services for Students with Disabilities, or call their office at (734) 763-3000, (734) 615-6921 TTY


*** The syllabus and schedule will change to meet the needs of this class, so please continue to check the online version!! ***