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English 231

Introduction to Dramatic Forms and Conventions

Length of Course: One semester (14 weeks)

Classroom Hours per Week: 4 hours

Number of Credits: 3 credits

Prerequisites: 6 first year credits in English, to include one of English 100 or 101, and one of English 108, 110, 121 or 131 with a minimum grade of C and 12 credits

Description of Course

A study of the major dramatic forms of the twentieth century. Playwrights whose work will be considered include Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, August Strindberg, Bertolt Brecht, Harold Pinter, David Mamet, John Osbourne, Tom Stoppard, Tennessee Williams and Sharon Pollock. As well as the dramatic literature, the course also considers changes in acting and staging techniques and conventions, theatrical architecture and social content. The course will include theatre-going and film-viewing.

Written Assignments

Students will complete two short in-class essays (of about 600 words) and one longer take-home essay (of about 1500 words)


Two Short Essays (in-class) 30%
One Long Essay (take-home) 20%
Seminar Work 15%
Final Examination 35%


Six Great Modern Plays, Dell, 1967; Individual editions of additional plays selected; The Theatre of Revolt, Robert Brustein.

Additional Readings

The Poetics, Aristotle; The Theatre and its Double, Antonin Artaud; The Life of the Theatre, Julian Beck; The Actor at Work, Robert Benedetti; The Life of the Drama, Robert Bentley; The Theatre: An Introduction, Oscar Brockett; The Empty Space, Peter Brook; The Theatre of the Absurd, Martin Esslin; The Making of Modern Drama, Robert Gilman; Towards a Poor Theatre, Jerzey Grotowski; An Actor Prepares, Konstantin Stanislavski; Building a Character, Konstantin Stanislavski


UBC English (3) second year
SFU English (3) second year
UVic English 200 level


Steve Barnes, B.Sc. (Alberta), M.A. (British Columbia)
Zeferino Cabrita, B.A., B.F.A., M.A. (British Columbia)
Dilek Cansin, B.A. (Macalester College), M.A. (British Columbia)
Debra Clarke, B.Sc., M.A., TESL Cert (British Columbia)
Julie Karey, B.A. (British Columbia), M.A. (Simon Fraser)
Leah Kaser, B.A. (British Columbia), M.Ed. (Lesley College)
Angela Lavery, B.A., B.Ed., (Toronto), M.A. (British Columbia)
Nicola Maher, B.A. (British Columbia), M.A. (Sussex)
Leslie Mercer, B.A. (British Columbia), M.A. (University College Dublin)
Denis Roberts, B.A., P.D.P., M.A. (Simon Fraser)
Jim Smith, B.Ed., M.Ed. (British Columbia), M.A. (Simon Fraser)
Gary Swanson, B.A. (Simon Fraser), M.A. (British Columbia)