University of Houston, Fall 2017
“The writing down of words and music creates only a body. Performance brings to life a soul.” (Lee Breuer, Gospel at Colonus, x)
“A myth is a story that holds in it the values and the culture and the rhythm and the vibrations of a people. So for me a lot of my work has been mythological.” – Will Power, creator of The Seven
Classics 3345: Myth and Performance in Greek Tragedy explores both ancient and modern performance traditions of Athenian tragedy. Students are asked to consider how an awareness of the original performance context of a work contributes to the meaning of the text, and are also asked to investigate how placing the performance in new contexts and new settings changes that meaning. In this class we read 12-15 ancient plays and view modern productions of several of them. The course counts for the Creative Arts Core credit at the University of Houston.
Professor: Casey Dué Hackney (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Office hours: Mondays, 11:00-1 and by appointment, Agnes Arnold Hall room 601. MCL Dept. phone number: (713) 743-8350, but e-mail is always preferable.
Blackboard and Language Acquisition Center: This course is being taught as a hybrid (this concept will be discussed further on the first day of class), and important components of the course are delivered through Blackboard. You should log in to Blackboard regularly to participate in on-line discussions and check for announcements. Most weeks you are required to post a brief writing assignment in response to a question I will pose (9 postings total). Many weeks you are also required to watch a film or attend a performance outside of class. All of the films we will discuss in this class will be on reserve at the Language Acquisition Center on the 2nd floor of Agnes Arnold Hall.
Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. If you have never taken a Classics course, however, or if you have never read any Greek literature before, you will need to put in extra effort in order to succeed in this class. Also, this course requires careful planning on your part. Make sure to get tickets to any assigned performances and plan ahead to make time for watching assigned films, some of which are not easily accessible. Most weeks you need to remember to post to the on-line discussion. Some weeks have a lot of assigned reading. Keep in mind that even though the class meets only once per week, it requires the same work load as any other junior level humanities/visual and performing arts course.
Graham Ley, A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theater. Revised Edition. Chicago, 2006. ISBN 978-0226477619.
Oresteia. Aeschylus, Christopher Collard (Translator) ISBN: 9780199537815
The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. Sophocles, Dudley Fitts (Translator), Robert Fitzgerald (Translator) ISBN: 9780156027649
Electra. Sophocles, Anne Carson (Translator) ISBN: 9780195049602
Bacchae and Other Plays: Iphigenia among the Taurians – Bacchae – Iphigenia at Aulis – Rhesus. Euripides, James H. Morwood (Editor), Edith Hall (Translator) ISBN: 9780192838759
Orestes and Other Plays. Euripides, Robin Waterfield (Translator) ISBN: 9780199552436
Frogs. Aristophanes, J. Henderson (translator). ISBN 9781585103089
House of Names by Colm Tóibín ISBN: 9781501140211
*See also the schedule below for additional required readings/viewings and assignments.
Greek Tragedy by Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz (Blackwell, 2008). Portions of this book are available on Blackboard.
Components of Course Grade: Weekly Web Postings (9 postings total) 90%; Review essay of Colm Tóibín’s House of Names 10%
Attendance Policy: Because of the nature of this course, which meets only once a week, attendance is absolutely required. Writing assignments are based closely on material presented in class.*
Schedule of Readings and Lectures
* All reading assignments must be completed in advance of the day to which they are assigned.
Week 1 (8/23) Introduction to the course and Greek Tragedy
Recommended reading in advance of class (or after, for review): Greek Tragedy pp. 1-31 (available on Blackboard).
Week 2 (8/30) Greek Tragedy and Performance I
Read: Aeschylus, Agamemnon (the first play in the Oresteia trilogy); Ley 1–13
Week 3 (9/6) Greek Tragedy and Performance II
Read: Aeschylus, Libation Bearers (the second play in the Oresteia trilogy); Ley 14–29
Additional Assignment: Posting #1 due by Sunday 9/10 at midnight
Week 4 (9/13) Greek Tragedy and Democracy I: The Beginnings of Greek Democracy
Read: Aeschylus, Eumenides (the third play in the Oresteia trilogy); Ley 30–38
Additional Assignment: Posting #2 due by Sunday 9/17 at midnight
Week 5 (9/20) Thebes and the Oedipus Cycle of Myth
Read: Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes (available on Blackboard); Ley 39–73
Week 6 (9/27) Greek Tragedy and Myth: Will Power’s The Seven
Read: The Seven by Will Power (available through Blackboard)
Watch: Bill Moyers interview with Will Power, creator of The Seven (Blackboard)
Additional Assignment: Posting #3 due by Sunday 10/1 at midnight
*Lecture by Kevin Wetmore on Thursday 9/28 at 4pm in the Honors College Commons*
“Back in the Day: “The Seven’, ‘Hamilton’ and Hip-Hop History on the Classical Stage”
Week 7 (10/4) Greek Tragedy and the City: Sophocles’ Antigone
Read: Sophocles, Antigone
Additional Assignment: Posting #4 due by Sunday 10/8 at midnight
Week 8 (10/11) Greek Tragedy and Democracy II: Pericles and the beginning of the Peloponnesian War
Read: Thucydides, Funeral Oration of Pericles (Blackboard); Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos [aka Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King]
Week 9 (10/18) Greek Tragedy and Religion: Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus
Read: Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus
Watch: The Gospel at Colonus (PBS Great Performances, video available at the Language Acquisition Center, the iTunes store, and Amazon.com)
Additional Assignment: Posting #5 due by Sunday 10/22 at midnight
Week 10 (10/25) The Emotions of Greek Tragedy: Electra
Read: Sophocles, Electra and Euripides, Electra; Alfaro, Electricidad (Note: Euripides’ Electra and Electricidad are available on Blackboard)
Additional Assignment: Posting #6 due by Sunday 10/29 at midnight
Week 11 (11/1) Greek Tragedies with “Happy” Endings
Read: Euripides, Iphigeneia Among the Taurians and Orestes
Additional Assignment: Posting #7 due by Sunday 11/5 at midnight
Week 12 (11/8) Greek Tragedy and Democracy III: The “Radical” Democracy at the end of the Peloponnesian War
Read: Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis
Watch: Michael Cacoyannis’ Iphigenia (available at the Language Acquisition Center and YouTube, linked from Blackboard)
Additional Assignment: Posting #8 due by Sunday 11/12 at midnight
Week 13 (11/15) An Irish Oresteia: Colm Tóibín’s House of Names (class discussion)
Read: House of Names and come prepared for class discussion
Week 14 (11/22) Thanksgiving Break
Week 15 (11/29) Saving the City (again): Aristophanes, Frogs
Read Aristophanes, Frogs; Ley 74–92
Additional Assignment: Posting #9 due by Sunday 12/3 at midnight
*12/5 by midnight: Review essays are due*