You are here

SCAND 504 A: Contemporary Literary Theory

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
RAI 314
Photo of Olivia Gunn
Olivia Noble Gunn

Syllabus Description:


This course approaches major questions about literature, performance, and temporality by exploring the dramas of Henrik IBSEN while also thinking about our current theoretical interest in the FUTURE.

Ibsen (1828 to 1906) is sometimes called the 'father of modern drama.' He is an analytical playwright, more frequently associated with the ghosts of the past than with the future. At the same time, his late works take a profound interest in characters' desires to survive, to 'make good' after experiences of profound loss, and to move on. Our BIG question is thus, What does Ibsen have to say about and to the future, including our own 'post-feminist' era?

Over the course of the quarter, we will work our way from the past to the future, which will be defined in three primary ways:

1. Ideologies of the future

What futurisms, or beliefs and philosophies about the future, are found in Ibsen's plays and then reproduced in criticism? Can the plays be used to talk back to normative ideas about history/the archive, the unconscious, patriarchy, progress, reproduction, (pro)creativity, and survival?

2. Theories about the future

How have ideologies about the past and future been explored in recent literary and critical theory, particularly in the fields of performance, queer, and critical race studies?

3. Adaptations for the future

A BOOM in Ibsen productions and adaptations is now taking place in the US. According to IbsenStage, more than a third of US stagings of Ibsen have taken place since 2000. How has Ibsen been adapted for contemporary audiences in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries?

Assignments will include

1. A presentation based on/contributing to a short paper (6-8 pages) on an adaptation of an Ibsen play.

Together, we will read Little Eyolf and a recent adaptation, Indian Arm (2016), by BC-based playwright Hiro Kanagawa. You will also take on a play and adaptation of your own choosing to write-up and present to the class. The range of possibilities is immense here, from stage productions to graphic novels to films to ...

2. An annotated bibliography (4-10 works) on a relevant research subject of your choosing

Sources might be taken from Ibsen studies, from drama and performance criticism, from contemporary queer-feminist theory, from ...

Guidance concerning adaptations and research foci will, of course, be provided!


Catalog Description: 
Contemporary literary theory and its application to Scandinavian texts. Prerequisite: graduate student standing or permission of instructor.
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:19pm