Death in Modern Theatre (DRA3038)

StaffDr Adrian Curtin - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 12 weeks;

Module aims

In this module, we will investigate how a range of modern dramatists engage contemporary attitudes toward death, as well as the existential challenges that death poses, in their plays.

Discussions about plays and critical materials will be accompanied by practical exploration of scenes. The module will demonstrate the importance of connecting critical and creative ways of thinking, and show how the two modes are inherently combined.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Explain how and why modern theatre artists represent death in their plays
  • 2. Integrate textual analysis, production history, and theory/scholarship
  • 3. Engage critical and creative modes of working

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Engage critically and analytically from different theoretic perspectives, to explore theoretical concerns through practice, and vice versa, and to synthesise findings in practical and written tasks. The ability to interpret research into physical practice and vice versa
  • 5. Apply a wide range of library and IT skills in detailed independent research

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Use personal initiative; set personal objectives that are linked to a sense of challenge and extending boundaries; identify and evaluate personal learning strategies that are self-critical as much as self-reflective
  • 7. Develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback, and to improve communication skills and advanced analytic abilities in discussions
  • 8. Think laterally and demonstrate originality in problem solving, to express and communicate creative ideas and images, and the ability to initiate and sustain creative work, both group and solo

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Each class will be themed around a particular playwright or topic. The seminars will be a mix of instructor-led discussion and student-led practical work. You will write short written responses to discussion prompts throughout the term.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching33Mixed-mode seminar activities
Guided independent study150Class preparation (assigned reading, forum posts, practical work)
Guided independent study117Preparation of portfolio; essay research

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Forum postsTwo 750 word examples1-2, 4, 7-8Oral (from peers and tutor)
Essay plan500 words1-6Oral (from peers and tutor)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio (three 750-word forum posts; one 750-word report on practical work)503000 words1-4, 7-8Oral (from peers and tutors), written (from tutor)
Essay503000 words1-6Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-4, 7-8Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-6Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Ariès, Philippe (1974), Western Attitudes Toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Ariès, Philippe (2008 [1977]), The Hour of Our Death, New York: Vintage Books.
  • Barker, Howard (2005), Death, the One and the Art of Theatre, London: Routledge.
  • Barry, Vincent (2007), Philosophical Thinking about Death and Dying, Belmont: Thomson.
  • Bronfen, Elisabeth & Sarah Webster Goodwin (eds.) (1993), Death and Representation, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Choron, Jacques (1973), Death and Western Thought, New York: Collier Books.
  • Critchley, Simon (2004), Very Little--Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature, London: Routledge.
  • Dollimore, Jonathan (2001), Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture, New York: Routledge.
  • Fuchs, Elinor (1987), Plays of the Holocaust: An International Anthology, New York: Theatre Communications Group.
  • Gritzner, Karoline (2010), Eroticism and Death in Theatre and Performance, Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.
  • Guthke, Karl Siegfried (1999), The Gender of Death: A Cultural History in Art and Literature, Cambridge Cambridge University Press.
  • Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth (1969), On Death and Dying, [S.l.]: Macmillan.
  • Mackintosh, Fiona (1994), Dying Acts: Death in Ancient Greek and Modern Irish Tragic Drama, Cork: Cork Univeristy Press.
  • Perdigao, Lisa K. & Mark Pizzato (2010), Death in Twentieth-Century American Texts and Performances: Corpses, Ghosts, and the Reanimated Dead, Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Sherman, David (2014), In a Strange Room: Modernism's Corpses and Mortal Obligation, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Key words search

Death, dying, mortality, modern theatre