Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay (2500 words)  30%
Semester Assessment Practical/Seminar Presentation  30%
Semester Assessment 2-hour Examination  40%
Supplementary Assessment A written assignment in lieu of failed essay or presentation  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   2-hour Resit Examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Display a sophisticated critical understanding of the texts under consideration and the implications of these texts in performance
2. Situate the module's texts in their cultural, political and historical contexts.
3. Demonstrate an awareness of the wider cultural and theoretical issues raised by the module
4. Produce organised, coherently structured and critically engaged written work.

Brief description

A selection of plays will provide a springboard from which to explore a variety of issues and to pose a number of questions about not only 'American'Theatre, but also 'American' identity: How far has multiculturalism succeeded in America? To what extent can the 'voices' of the many ethnic, social, religious and cultural groups in America be heard? How and to what extent has theatre/performance (from early 1960s to the late 1990s) contributed toward providing a platform for the many 'other' voices that make the United States?


This module has been initiated in direct response to student demand. The module focuses on a gap in our current teaching provision , Contemporary American Drama. It is a specialist research area for Dr Alison Forsyth the module co-ordinator , and enhances one of the Department's key research groups namely an analysis of Contemporary Theatre from 1960.


Lecture One: The Musical Voice and Questioning 'The American Dream': From Trouble in Tahiti Onward [screening of Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti]
Lecture Two: Multiculturalism and Heteroglossia: Alternative Voices (1963-present) Context of New Movements in the American Theatre at that Time
Lecture Three: Valdez, Los Vendidos and Baraka, Dutchman - Chicano Theatre and Black Consciousness Take to the Stage
Lecture Four: Orientalism and Myth-Making in Hwang's M. Butterfly and screening of parts of the film version of the play, M. Butterfly
Lecture Five: Parks, The America Play and TopDog/Underdog
Lecture Six: The Choreopoem: Screening of Ntozake Shange's For Coloured Girls who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf
Lecture Seven: Shattered Dreams: Shepard's True West and Female Space: Fornes's Fefu and Her Friends
Lecture Eight: New York, New York: Kushner's Angels in America and Perestroika- with screening of key episodes from film adaptation of the play
Lecture Nine: : Deavere Smith's Fires in the Mirror and Twilight Los Angeles (screening comprising extracts from both filmed performances)
Lecture Ten: The Long Journey and Present Developments - A Summation
[12 play texts accompanied by at least 6 screenings of play extracts. Students are sent seminar preparation questions relating to each lecture one week before each lecture/seminar. These questions provide structure to background research and reading, and engagement with issues raised in the preparation question provides the basis for class contribution assessment]

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written: clear articulation of ideas and analysis in written assessments Verbal: class contribution and interaction
Improving own Learning and Performance By independent research; tutor feedback on written work and oral contribution in class; developing time/work management skills.
Information Technology For research purposes (for written assessments and class presentations); Use, for example of PowerPoint for class presentation. Using electronic research and bibliographic resources
Personal Development and Career planning Personal development and career planning skills will not be explicitly developed through the module; however, many of the generic skills developed through work on this module will have significant transferability to a wide range of career contexts.
Problem solving By critical engagement (verbal and written) with intellectual concepts raised by plays and their context.
Research skills By preparation for written assessment (essay and exam) and oral contribution in class.
Subject Specific Skills The analysis of play-text both by classroom discussion and written assessment. A detailed knowledge of seminal contemporary American plays as text and in performance and an understanding of their social, political and cultural context.
Team work By class presentation.


This module is at CQFW Level 6