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Level 5

5AACTL11 Exploring King's Greek Play

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor: To be confirmed
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminar (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 2-hour exam (100%)

Assessment pattern for Graduate Diploma students only

Assessment: 2 x 2,000-word essays (100%, essays worth 50% each)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

In this course we will explore ancient Greek drama through the intensive study of the play selected for performance as the King’s College Annual Greek Play. We will study the play in English and consider such issues as the development of the genre, performance conventions, gender, ethnicity, and religion.

Particular attention will be paid to the evolving relationship between Athenian drama and the socio-political context of the democracy. We will supplement our investigations with readings from contemporary scholarship. Our explorations of the play will include sessions on its reception since antiquity (including artistic responses to it, performances, translations and adaptations).

The module will also address the issues of translating and working from translations of ancient Greek plays. If students also wish to study this play in Greek, they will have the opportunity to do so in the companion text module 5AACGT04. This would be an excellent companion module to 5AACTL10 Adventures in Ancient Greek Drama and it is recommended (but not compulsory) that you take both modules.

Provisional teaching plan

  • Week 1 - Introduction to the play
  • Week 2 - Staging – thinking about the play in action on the ancient stage
  • Week 3 - Politics – relationship to contemporary politics and democratic institutions
  • Week 4 - Social aspects – representation of family relations, poverty and wealth, slavery
  • Week 5 - Chorus and Characters – the balance of roles, the function of the chorus and the attitudes towards characterization in antiquity
  • Week 6 - Translation issues – introduction to translation theory and the specific challenges (linguistic and cultural) presented by the selected play
  • Week 7 - Reception within antiquity – responses to performances, on visual media and in literature
  • Week 8 - Reception in the Renaissance – translations and adaptations of the play
  • Week 9 - Reception in Victorian/Edwardian/ Postwar periods (emphasis will depend on the choice of play and could include past performances at King’s if applicable).
  • Week 10 - Conclusions – why stage ancient Greek theatre?

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • E. Bakola, L. Prauscello, and M. Telò (eds) Greek Comedy and the Discourse of Genres (CUP, Cambridge)
  • P.E. Easterling (1997) The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy (Cambridge)
  • E. Hall (2010) Greek Tragedy: Suffering under the Sun. (OUP, Oxford)
  • E. Hall and F. Macintosh (2005) Greek Tragedy and the British Theatre 1660-1914 (Oxford)
  • L. Hardwick (2003) Reception Studies. Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics 33. (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 
  • C. F. Russo (1997, transl. Kevin Wrap) Aristophanes an Author for the Stage (London)
  • O. Taplin (1978) Greek Tragedy in Action (London)
  • R. Wyles (2011) Costume in Greek Tragedy (Bristol Classical Press, London)
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