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Shakespeare and Performance

  • Shakespeare and Performance at MBC

    Paul D. Menzer, director; Julie D. Fox, assistant director of operations
    Ralph Alan Cohen, executive director, American Shakespeare Center
    Matthew Davies, Mary Hill Cole, Janna Segal, Terry Southerington, Doreen Bechtol

    Overview

    Mary Baldwin College, in partnership with the American Shakespeare Center, offers the degree of Master of Letters (MLitt), leading to the terminal degree of Master of Fine Arts (MFA). The program is non-residential and open to qualified men and women. Offers of admission are extended to the strongest candidates. Firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition, the program offers a combination of stagecraft and scholarship, with interdisciplinary emphasis on acting, directing, dramaturgy, and teaching. Study proceeds from a common group of required courses, ensuring mastery of Shakespeare and his plays and the world and theatre in which he worked. Many classes follow the traditional semester format; others have a modular format lasting several weeks, or are held on weekends and during the summer months. Each student works closely with the faculty and with a faculty advisor on the Mary Baldwin campus, and courses combine traditional academic scholarship with practical experience. All students have access to the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, the only modern reconstruction in the world of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars. Resident faculty instruction is augmented with internationally recognized visiting scholars and artists.

  • All students who matriculate into the Mary Baldwin College Shakespeare and Performance (S&P) program agree to abide by the rules, regulations, and standards set by the college. Students who seek the MLitt and MFA are eligible for financial aid services. The Declarations section of this catalog states Mary Baldwin’s policies on non-discrimination, student privacy rights, and other important provisions.

    Note for prospective teachers: Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure (PBTL) is offered through the academic outreach program of MBC’s Adult Degree Program. It is not part of the S&P program. Students also can earn initial Virginia Licensure in K–12 Theatre or Secondary English through the MBC Master of Arts in Teaching program.

    Admission Requirements

    • Admission will be limited to the most qualified applicants
    • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
    • An academic major in the arts and sciences or other appropriate discipline (or interdisciplinary major)
    • Minimum 3.0 GPA in the last sixty hours of college work
    • Correct, fluent, written and spoken English. Nonnative English speakers must submit a TOEFL score of 600 or above.
    • General GRE scores (including minimum Verbal score of 550, Writing, 5.0)
    • An interview (campus or phone) and/or audition with the S&P Admissions Committee.
    See Transfer Credit section below.

    Admission Process

    Applicants to the S&P program must submit the following to the Office of Graduate Admissions at Mary Baldwin College:
    • Application for admission
    • Official transcript of all post-secondary work
    • Two letters of reference from professional educators, employers, or those who have observed professional work
    • A goal statement of approximately 500 words
    • GRE scores: minimum Verbal score 550, Writing 5.0
    • The application fee

    Selected candidates will be invited for an interview or an audition, whichever is appropriate. Admissions decisions are made by the S&P Admissions Committee. The program director will inform applicants, in writing, of their admission status. In rare cases, applicants will be advised at the time of their admission regarding any additional undergraduate course requirements that must be fulfilled as conditions of enrollment. Any person may be denied admission to the S&P program for the following reasons:
    • Attempting to obtain admission by fraudulent means or through misrepresentation of material facts
    • Falsification of records or documents
    • Conviction of any felony
    • Conviction of any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, sexual offense, drug distribution, or physical injury.

    Full Admission

    Full admission to the MLitt program as degree-seeking candidates will be offered to the most qualified applicants who meet all admissions requirements. Those who complete the MLitt may be approved as candidates for the MFA (see Master of Fine Arts below).

    Conditional Admission

    In rare cases a student may be admitted on a conditional basis, requiring, for example, specific work to be completed early in the student’s career in the program, or the maintenance of a specific GPA during the first semester or academic year. In accepting the student, the program director will inform the student of the conditions under which the student is accepted and the time allowed for the fulfillment of those conditions.

    Transition from Conditional to Full Acceptance

    The program director will monitor any conditional student, reporting to the S&P Educational Policy Committee on the student’s academic progress at the end of each semester. Within two weeks of that review, the program director will inform the student in writing of the committee’s recommendations regarding the student’s continuation in the program, admission to full degree-seeking status, or requesting the student to withdraw from the program.

    Five Year BA/MLitt Option

    Undergraduate theatre students at MBC may elect to apply to the S&P program through a 3-2 option that allows selected students to receive the Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre and Master of Letters degree in Shakespeare and Performance in five academic years. For more details, see Undergraduate Offerings, Theatre.

  • Academics

    Orientation

    New students are required to participate in an orientation just prior to the start of the fall term. Successful applicants receive notice of the orientation dates in summer of the year they will matriculate in the fall term.

    Advising

    On entering the program, each student is assigned an advisor who is a member of the S&P faculty. The advisor is a general resource person for the program. In practice, however, students usually gravitate towards the faculty member most qualified to advise them on their research interests and, as they select their final degree project, towards the person likely to advise their thesis. All students should feel free to consult the program director, or any faculty member, at any time.

    Transfer Credit

    A student may present no more than six semester hours of graduate credit for transfer on approval by the program director, who grants that approval on a case by case basis. Courses may be presented only if graded “B” or better. Transfer credit is awarded only if ALL the following conditions are met:
    • The S&P director determines on the basis of catalog and course materials submitted by the student that the course content is equivalent to an MBC course.
    • The credit was earned in an accredited graduate program.
    • The credit was earned no earlier than three calendar years prior to the student’s admission to the program.

     Note: Because MBC’s S&P program is, by its nature, different from many other English and theatre graduate programs, program transcripts are accompanied by a “key” noting course similarities to more standard English and theatre courses. In advance of enrollment, students are responsible for determining whether courses taken in the program can be transferred to another graduate program or will satisfy credential requirements the student intends to meet. After the course drop deadlines, a determination that courses are not transferable is not grounds for refund of tuition or fees. The program neither accepts nor offers credit toward the Master of Letters degree for out-of-class learning through prior learning credit, correspondence courses, independent study, learning contracts, or credit by examination.

    Invitational Post-Baccalaureate Portfolio Option

    Students with a master’s degree, extensive graduate work, or extraordinary professional experience may be invited to present a Post-Baccalaureate Portfolio. The program director, in consultation with faculty, will review the portfolio, and may grant 15–18 semester hours of credit, allowing the applicant to proceed towards completion of the Master of Fine Arts degree requirements within an abbreviated timeframe (without first completing the Master of Letters degree). The Post-Baccalaureate Portfolio should provide a detailed account of relevant course work or professional experience and how it relates to analogous courses in the S&P graduate catalog. (Certain courses are exempt from consideration for prior credit.)

    Granted credit hours and course credit for work at Mary Baldwin College must total 54 credit hours for completion of the MFA. In other words, students granted 15–18 hours of prior credit must complete a minimum of 36 hours in the S&P program. A Post-Baccalaureate student must complete all non-exempt MLitt required courses and complete the requirements for the MFA degree, including the MFA thesis. If a Post-Baccalaureate Portfolio applicant is deemed eligible for fewer than fifteen granted credits, he or she will be advised to proceed with the standard MLitt/MFA academic program, with a possibility for award of transfer credits.

    Special Students

    Individuals who possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution are eligible to enroll in courses as special students. Special students must meet the entry standards for the graduate program and should apply to the MBC Office of Admissions. No financial aid services are provided to special students. Students currently enrolled as undergraduates or graduates or post-graduate teacher certification students at Mary Baldwin College may be permitted to take up to two MLitt courses as special students. They must receive permission from the program director to do so. A GPA of 3.0 is normally required.

    Academic Policies

    Academic policies applicable to MLitt and MFA students are published in this catalog. Other statements of program policies are maintained in the program director’s office and/or published in the S&P Student Handbook. Policies may be amended at any time by the graduate faculty, who determine the date at which amended policies become effective.

    Exemption from Policy

    Students may petition for exemption from academic policies. Petitions are granted only for cause and only with the approval of the S&P Educational Policy Committee. A petition for exemption from or modification of a completion requirement may be granted only by the S&P faculty and the program director.

    Requirement for Continuing Enrollment

    Degree-seeking S&P students are required to remain continuously enrolled from the date of their initial registration for courses until completion of the degree. A student who does not enroll in new work in any semester must pay a re-enrollment fee of $50. All enrolled students and those who have paid the re-enrollment fee are eligible to use college facilities and to receive such services as e-mail accounts, advising, Learning Skills and Writing Center assistance, and career counseling. MLitt and MFA students completing their projects or theses who have satisfied all other course requirements for the degree (including REN 700 and REN 800) must maintain their enrollment by registering for REN 701 or REN 801 during each additional semester. They are eligible to use college facilities and to receive the same services as enrolled and re-enrolled students. For more information, see Tuition and Fees.

    Time Limit for Completion

    Students seeking the MLitt degree are required to complete the program within five and a half calendar years from the date of initial registration; the limit for the MFA degree is seven years from the date of initial registration.

    Application for Graduation

    Students who expect to complete degree requirements must be enrolled in the semester or summer term in which they intend to graduate. They must apply for graduation to the S&P program director by the end of the second week of the term in which they expect to graduate.

    Policy on Participation

    The plays taught and performed in the program may contain controversial themes and sexual content. Students are expected to engage with all the material and are encouraged to discuss with faculty any concerns they may have. Accepting a role in a program-sponsored performance event constitutes a de facto agreement to perform, direct, and/or dramaturg the play in its entirety.

    Grading

    The grading symbols used by the college’s S&P program are:
    A Distinguished 4.0
    A- Excellent 3.7
    B+ Good 3.3
    B Competent 3.0
    B- Minimum passing 2.7
    C Unacceptable work 2.0
    F Failing 0
    NR No grade reported (temporary)
    CR Credit awarded
    NC No credit awarded
    I Incomplete (temporary)
    WP Withdrawn passing
    WF Withdrawn failing

    Pass/No Credit Grading Option

    MLitt/MFA faculty may elect to offer a course with the Pass/No Credit grading option; however, students may not choose to take a regular, graded course for Pass/No Credit.

    Academic Progress

    The program director reviews each student’s academic record after each semester to determine whether students are making satisfactory progress towards the degree. The degree completion requirements for each student are those in effect on the date of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student.

    Academic Standing

    To remain in good academic standing, degree-seeking S&P students are required to maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA. A student not in good standing may be placed on probation or asked to withdraw from the program. All students are responsible for monitoring their own progress towards the degree and in each of their courses. Where they are experiencing academic difficulties, they should consult the relevant faculty to decide what remedial measures need to be taken. They are expected to know and understand the specific requirements for their degree. To ensure their own compliance with those requirements, they should consult frequently with their advisor or the program director.

    Probation and Dismissal

    The program director may place students on probation if their cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 or if their semester GPA falls below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters. The program director in consultation with the Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Educational Policy Committee may require a student to withdraw from the program: if, after one semester on probation, the cumulative GPA remains below 3.0 or when other conditions attached to the probation have not been met; if, in any semester, a student receives a C or lower in a course (including a NC), irrespective of the number of credit hours awarded for that course. Students subject to dismissal may be continued on probation at the director’s discretion. Additionally, students may be placed on probation or dismissed for flagrant non-participation in program activities or violation of the “Moral and Ethical Responsibility” clause in the catalogue at the discretion of the director in consultation with the Vice President for Academic Affairs. In any case, withdrawal procedures may be initiated at the discretion of the director in consultation with the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

    Leave of Absence, Withdrawal

    Students may request a Leave of Absence by completing a form available on the program web site.
    • Students who re-enroll within one year of the withdrawal date pay no re-enrollment fee.
    • Students who re-enroll after one year from the withdrawal date must pay a re-enrollment fee.
    • Transcripts cannot be released until all financial obligations have been met.

    Students should consult with the Business Office and the Office of Financial Aid regarding these matters. Students who withdraw from the program must notify the director in writing. Prorated tuition refunds, if any, are given consistent with college policy.

    Syllabi, Examinations

    The syllabus of each graduate course includes a schedule of class contact hours required, goals, requirements, assignments, and attendance and grading policies. The determination of whether students will be required to take a final examination is the sole province of the instructor of each course. Similarly, the instructor will determine when and the circumstances under which the examination is to be completed, and the weight of the examination in determining course grades. These guidelines are provided in the syllabus at the first class meeting.

    Add/Drop

    A graduate student may drop a course before the second class meeting. If a graduate student wishes to drop a course after the second class meeting, she or he will be financially obligated to meet tuition costs on a pro rated basis. (See “Pro Rata Refund Procedures” in the Admissions and Financial Aid section of this catalog.) A course may be dropped for medical or providential reasons at any time, upon approval of the director, and in accordance with the provisions of the pro rata policy. The instructor will determine and report the student’s final course grade when the course is dropped after the official drop period. A student may add a course prior to the second meeting of the course, or at any time with the permission of the instructor.

    Grade Reports, Incompletes, Grade Changes

    Official grade reports, including cumulative averages, will be posted online after the conclusion of the fall semester and the May term, and at the conclusion of the summer session. The grades posted following the May term will include work completed during the spring semester.

    A temporary symbol of “I” (for Incomplete) may be given at the end of a course if, for reasons beyond the student’s control, the student is unable to complete the work. An incomplete will be is given upon the recommendation of the instructor and the approval of the program director. Work must be completed by the end of the next regular semester. In unusual circumstances, such as prolonged illness, the program director and the dean of the college may extend the time. If the work is not completed within the time specified when the Incomplete is granted, or within the explicitly authorized extended time, a grade of “F” will be is recorded.

    Students requesting a grade change must make such requests initially to the instructor of the course. Students must initiate the grade change request/contest within one week of the official online grade report for the course. The instructor will then communicate in writing a recommendation to the S&P program director and the registrar. This procedure must be completed by the end of the semester following the semester in which the course was taken. If a student wishes to contest a grade, the reasons must be submitted in writing to the program director and the dean of the college. A committee consisting of the dean, program director, instructor whose grade is being contested, and two other graduate faculty members will review the case and approve or disapprove the change.

    Course Enrollment Priorities

    S&P students are enrolled in courses according to the following priorities: first fully admitted degree-seeking MLitt or MFA students, according to seniority in the program, followed by conditionally admitted students and special students, in that order.

    Auditing Courses

    Students may audit one S&P graduate course during their pursuit of the MLitt/MFA degree(s). The student will not be charged for the course and will not receive credit. The course will appear on the student transcript with the designation “AU” in place of a grade. Permission to audit a class is solely at the discretion of the instructor, as are the terms of the audit with respect to student participation and work.

    MBC-S&P Attendance Policy

    Every S&P faculty member (both resident and adjunct) is responsible for developing his or her own attendance policy and publishing it on his or her own syllabus. Every S&P student is responsible for requesting an excused absence from a faculty member in advance. Legitimate medical absences are exempted from attendance policies, though extended or multiple absences may necessitate the student withdrawing or taking an “Incomplete” in the course.

  • Tuition and Fees 2013–2014

    Tuition for courses in the S&P program is $750 per credit hour for all students. In addition, the following fees apply.
    Application fee: $40
    Library and Technology fee: $50 per semester
    MLitt Productions annual fee: $50
    MFA Productions annual fee: $100
    Re-Enrollment (if absent): $50
    MLitt Commencement fee: $100 in semester of graduation
    MFA Commencement fee: $100 in semester of graduation
    REN 701/REN 801 fee: $750/semester (if needed)

    Financial Aid

    Financial aid is available to S&P students. In general, students must be at least half-time (5 or more credit hours per semester) to receive financial aid. While there are very few grant opportunities available for graduate students through the federal or state governments, most students are eligible for Federal Stafford Loans to assist with tuition and living expenses.

    Some Possible Financial Aid Opportunities

    • Federal Stafford Loans
    • Veteran’s benefits for those who qualify
    • Private sources: www.fastweb.com or www.scholarships.com
    • Tuition-reimbursement programs. These are available to employees of cities, counties, states, and private corporations. Contact your employer for details.
    • Scholarships and Assistantships, as awarded through the admission process to the S&P program. Each year the program distributes a good number of merit scholarships in the form of course tuition waivers for three-to-six semester hours per term or year. These awards are posted on students’ tuition invoices and deducted from the balance due.
    • The S&P program also funds six graduate assistantships each year. The recipients receive an annual tuition waiver for three-to-six semester hours of credit plus an annual stipend ($6,883.00 for 2013-14) that is distributed as twelve monthly checks on the 25th of each month, beginning in September. In addition, the program awards several Federal Work-Study positions that require students to work approximately 7.5 hours per week for $8.25/hour. All assistants must complete and submit monthly timesheets.
    • MLitt/MFA students who hold a master’s degree also may apply for Graduate Teaching Fellowships available in the theatre, English, and communication departments of the Residential College for Women. GTFs teach one class in exchange for a 3 s.h. tuition waiver. MLitt and MFA students also are hired as teaching assistants for visiting or resident faculty, on a 1-semester basis.
    • Students in the S&P program generally find part-time jobs in the Staunton area, to help reduce the amount of loan money needed for living expenses.

    Methods of Tuition Payment

    • VISA, Mastercard, and personal checks
    • Pay up front each semester or set up a convenient monthly payment plan.
    • Tuition is deducted from loan amounts and checks for the balance are distributed to students the second week of classes. Students sign for and pick up checks from the MBC Business Office on the ground floor of the Administration Building.
    • For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office at 540-887-7323.

    Honor Code and Code of Conduct

    The provisions of the college’s Honor System apply to S&P students, who are responsible for understanding the provisions of the Honor System and for seeking information from professors as to the application of the Honor Code to course activities. The provisions of the college’s Code of Conduct apply to S&P students.

    Copyright Policy

    The college enforces all provisions of copyright law. Students are responsible for informing themselves about copyright laws, particularly with respect to copying materials.

    Research on Human Subjects

    Federal, state, and college policies regarding research on human subjects apply to all research involving MBC students, faculty, or staff as researchers or as subjects, including research undertaken in the S&P program. Students whose thesis work involves people other than themselves must consult with staff in the MBC Sponsored Programs office.

    Moral and Ethical Responsibility

    S&P students may not engage in behaviors or actions that endanger themselves or others, either while on MBC’s property or while engaged in a program or activity connected with the college and/or its programs. Students are required to comply with professional standards of schools in which they engage in research, internship work, teaching, or other activities connected with the college and/or its programs.

  • Master of Letters in Shakespeare and Performance (MLitt)

    Requirements for the Master of Letters Degree (MLitt)

    37 total semester hours including the required 28 s.h of core courses:
    REN 500 Shakespeare (3 s.h.)
    REN 501 Research Methods (1 s.h.)
    REN 510 Shakespeare and Textual Culture (3 s.h.)
    REN 520 Tudor-Stuart History or REN 550 Social History of Early Modern England (3 s.h.)
    REN 530 The Language of Performance (3 s.h.)
    REN 531 Performance of the Language (3 s.h.)
    REN 551 Shakespeare Pedagogy (3 s.h.)
    REN 553 Directing I (3 s.h.)
    REN 670 Dramaturgy (3 s.h.)
    REN 700 MLitt Thesis Project (3 s.h.)
    Plus nine to 12 s.h. of elective credits to complete degree total of 37 or 40* s.h.

    *Students staying for the MFA degree are encouraged to complete at least 40 s.h. before matriculating into the MFA degree program, which requires a total of 70 s.h.

    (An MFA student may graduate from the MLitt degree program with 37 s.h. of course credits, then take the additional required 3 s.h. during the summer after MLitt graduation.)

    Note: A Minimum GPA of 3.0 is required to remain in “good standing” as an MLitt student; and a minimum GPA of 3.3 is required for admission to the MFA program.

    The MLitt Thesis Project

    All candidates for the MLitt degree must complete REN 700, the Thesis Project for the MLitt degree. MLitt students may enroll for the project after they have completed 18 s.h. of coursework. The project must be approved by the program director and regularly supervised by a member of the program faculty. For more information, see the S&P Student Handbook and MLitt Thesis Proposals and Enrollment, below.

    The Project consists of:
    • a thesis,
    • a 25-minute staged presentation in support of the thesis,
    • and an oral defense before an examining panel of at least two faculty members.

    Progress towards the MLitt degree normally requires an enrollment of at least nine hours per semester. However, students receiving financial aid should ensure that they maintain the minimum enrollment for aid, usually five hours per semester. Typically, students complete the MLitt degree in two years. For more information, see Continuing Enrollment, Time Limit for Completion, and Tuition and Fees.

    MLitt Thesis Proposals and Enrollment

    Students may enroll for their final projects after they have completed 18 s.h. of coursework towards the MLitt degree, and when their proposals have been approved by the following process: Students submit formal proposals for their thesis projects, obtain the consent of an appropriate faculty member to act as project supervisor, and a minimum of one other faculty to act with the supervisor as examiner(s). Occasionally, qualified outside examiners may form part of the examining committee. Once these steps have been taken, the program director must approve the project. Where resources, including actors, are drawn from the American Shakespeare Center, the consent of the American Shakespeare Center is also required. Details of and forms for this process are available from the program office. Only after obtaining the necessary approvals may a student enroll for the final project (REN 700). A grade is awarded for the course leading to completion of the project; the project itself is not graded but is the basis for the decision to award or withhold the degree. It is in the student’s best interests to consult regularly with the project supervisor and any other faculty who may provide helpful advice during development of the thesis and planning for performances. It is also advisable to prepare for work on the thesis by taking REN 695 in May Term or an exploratory REN 590:  Directed Inquiry. It is extremely unwise to leave preparation of the thesis until the student’s final semester.

    After the oral defense, a thesis may be accepted without revision; accepted conditionally, in which case the examiners will specify the revisions or additions needed; or rejected. In the case of rejection, a student may be required to resubmit the thesis, or an alternative thesis, for a second and final attempt. Acceptance, and the award of the degree, requires the unanimous consent of the examining committee. Students should consult the most recent Student Handbook for details of the process, format for preparation of the thesis, the steps required for enrollment, etc.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare and Performance (MFA)

    The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree is the terminal degree in practical theatre. Admission is not automatic, and applications for the MFA program should be made during the fall semester of the year in which the MLitt graduation is expected. An interview and audition with MFA faculty is required. Acceptances granted to students in the final year of their MLitt studies are conditional on the successful completion of that degree.

    Upon completion of their MLitt requirements, students admitted to the MFA degree will embark upon a 30 s.h. thesis project called “Company.” The twelve-month (early May to late April) degree is an immersive, collaborative experience during which students rotate through the program’s four core competencies (teaching, acting, directing, dramaturgy) while producing and performing a repertory of plays. Course work will be modular, allowing for flexibility of scheduling and instruction. The experience culminates in a festival presentation of all of the Company’s shows. In addition to fulfilling all evaluated components of the program, students will produce an assessed piece of writing, a collaborative thesis, with their fellow MFA students.

    Requirements for the Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) for 2013–14

    Minimum GPA of 3.3;
    A minimum of 70 semester hours, including those earned for the MLitt degree and these 30 s.h.;

    Summer 1 2013
    REN 810 Company Management (3 s.h.)
    REN 811 Company Marketing (3 s.h.)

    Fall Term 2013
    REN 812 Company Acting A (3 s.h.)
    REN 813 Company Directing A (3 s.h)
    REN 814 Company Dramaturgy A (3. s.h.)
    REN 815 Thesis A (3 s.h.)

    Spring Term 2014
    REN 822 Company Acting B (3 s.h.)
    REN 823 Company Directing B (3 s.h)
    REN 824 Company Dramaturgy B (3. s.h.)
    REN 825 Thesis B (3 s.h.)

  • MLitt Course Descriptions

    REN 500 Shakespeare (3 s.h.)
    This course designs to make all holders of the degree fully conversant with the fundamentals of Shakespeare, including the major themes and narratives of his plays and poems, the basics of prosody, early English staging, the main issues of textual transmission, and the facts surrounding the life of the author. *Required for MLitt core; must be taken in first fall term.

    REN 501 Research Methods (1 s.h.)
    This course introduces students to basic methods of research into early English drama, particularly in service of the MLitt degree thesis. Students also learn conventions of academic writing as needed. Assignments derive in part from components of the research paper required for REN 500. *Required for MLitt core; must be taken in first fall term.

    REN 510 Shakespeare and Textual Culture (3 s.h.)
    This course introduces students to basic terms and methods of critical bibliography with an emphasis on contemporary theories of textual studies. Students focus on the composition, transmission, printing, and editing of early modern dramatic scripts. *Required for MLitt core. Offered annually in spring term.

    REN 520 Tudor-Stuart History (3 s.h.)
    This course explores the politics, religions, and cultural developments in England from 1460 to 1660. The course focuses on the dynastic turmoil of the late fifteenth century, the Reformation and its impact, the concept of personal monarchy, the lives and courts of Elizabeth I and James I, and the English Civil War. *Either 520 or 550 is required for MLitt core. Offered annually.

    REN 530 The Language of Performance (3 s.h.)
    This course examines the language tools that Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights used to convey meaning to an audience. Students study the mechanics of scanning verse before exploring in detail the ways in which these playwrights used verse forms and rhetoric to guide actors in performance. Students also learn to read both explicit and implicit stage directions in the text. *Required for MLitt core; must be taken in first fall term.

    REN 531 Performance of the Language (3 s.h.)
    Students will explore how semantic and linguistic structure informs performance and how, in turn, performance enlivens language. This course furthers the examination of textual devices such as scansion, rhetoric, and rhyme by integrating them with vocal, physical, and emotional components of performance. Special attention is given to the theatrical importance of actor-audience interaction. Prerequisite: REN 530. *Required for MLitt core; must be taken in first spring term.

    REN 540 Early English Drama and Theatre History (3 s.h.)
    This course stresses the institutional and commercial auspices of early English drama — its place, its space, and its occasions — against the backdrop of major developments in theatre history. *Elective for students who have not completed a theatre history survey course. Offered annually.

    REN 550 Social History of Early Modern England (3 s.h.)
    This course takes a topical approach to exploring significant aspects of daily life in England between 1460 and 1660. Topics include the structures of power and authority, family life, the roles of women and men, urban and rural life, popular religion, and ritual. *Either 520 or 550 is required for MLitt core. Offered annually.

    REN 551 Shakespeare Pedagogy (3 s.h.)
    This course focuses on ways to teach dramatic literature, particularly Shakespeare, through performance in class. Students learn how to turn a classroom into a laboratory for the exploration of a play. The course offers future teachers both theoretical and practical knowledge of how students learn through their own performance and that of others. *Required for MLitt core. Offered annually in spring term.

    REN 553 Directing I (3 s.h.)
    Students develop a vision for a play based in the text and on the playing conventions of the Blackfriars stage. Course work includes readings, discussions of known directors of Shakespeare, their views on “true” to the text, cutting, and period issues. Also covered are practical considerations of casting, blocking, scheduling and running rehearsals. Features conversations with visiting actors, directors, and scholars. Final project includes a paper and a directed scene on the Blackfriars stage. *Required for MLitt core. Offered in fall and spring terms.

    REN 554 Shakespeare’s Theatre (3 s.h.)
    This course provides an in-depth study of the architecture and theatrical conventions of Shakespeare’s theatre. Among the subjects covered are architecture and design of theatre spaces, organization of acting companies, acting conventions, composition and configurations of audiences, and pacing and presentation of plays. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 555 Voice (3 s.h.)
    This course builds on warm-up, breathing, resonance, articulation and text work to give actors vocal range, endurance, and melody. Text work includes poetry, improvisation, group exploration of language, and the performance of monologues. Elective. Offered annually.

    REN 556 The Body in Performance (3 s.h.)
    A critical examination and physical exploration of principles of movement: time, space, balance, grace, and harmony. Students learn the importance of these principles in human expression and theatrical performance. Focuses on self expression, range of motion, group dynamics, character transformation. Special attention to the significance of body language in the early modern period and application of movement principles to early modern dramatic texts. Elective. Offered annually in spring term.

    REN 557 Shakespeare’s Contemporaries (3 s.h.)
    This course examines the work of playwrights in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Concentrating on the textual ambience in which these playwrights wrote, the course will provide students with a greater understanding of the issues of influence, intertextuality, and notions of “originality” in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 577 Special Topic Colloquium courses (1–3 s.h.)

    REN 587 Shakespeare Pedagogy Internship (3–6 s.h.)
    Instructional strategies internship for prospective teachers, actors, dramaturges, or directors. Students explore instructional strategies in varied settings, including college classrooms, high school classrooms, and/or educational departments of professional theatres. Interns work with teachers and students in each setting, and discuss their experiences with the instructor and other students. Credit varies; approximately 50 hours of work equivalent to 1 s.h. Elective to follow REN 551. Approval of program director is required. Offered every term. Not recommended for first-year students until summer.

    Note: Internship credit of 1-6 semester hours can count towards the total number of hours required for graduation. Any internship hours above 6 require special approval from the program director. See Student Handbook for more detailed information about internships and approval forms.

    REN 590 Directed Inquiry for the MLitt Degree (1–6 s.h.)
    Independent inquiry directed by a faculty member on a topic relevant to the MLitt student’s program and/or thesis. A directed inquiry is strongly recommended for all students in the summer or semester prior to the MLitt thesis project. *Approval of faculty supervisor and program director is required. Elective. Offered every term.

    REN 603 Studio (3 s.h.)
    A company of student actors, directors, teachers, and dramaturges work together to devise an original performance piece based on, inspired by, or using an extant early modern text. Prerequisites: REN 530, REN 531. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 605 Performance on the Blackfriars Stage (3 s.h.)
    Students will examine action and character development for the stage through analysis and application of acting fundamentals and methods of actor training under an umbrella of Shakespearean staging conditions. Students will explore ensemble building, action awareness, space, and physicality to enhance understanding and practical uses for the actor, director, dramaturg and teacher of Elizabethan drama. Elective. Offered in May Term.

    REN 607 Early English Art and Architecture (3 s.h.)
    A chronological, stylistic analysis of art, architecture, book illumination, visual culture, and connoisseurship in England from medieval beginnings until the death of Shakespeare. Students explore the sources for art made in England and that imported from the continent. Course emphasizes unique qualities of art in England. Special focus on art and architecture that Shakespeare and his contemporaries would have known. Cross listed as ARTH 314. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 608 Shakespeare and Music (3 s.h.)
    Through listening and score reading students learn songs and music associated with original performances of Shakespeare’s plays and those from later periods. Emphasizes music resources. Students also learn about instruments of the 16th century and appropriate modern substitutions, and study Renaissance music and music reading skills by playing the recorder. No prior music knowledge is required, but a review of basic skills — treble clef note names and rhythm — before class begins would be helpful. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 609 Social and Theatrical Dance in the Renaissance (3 s.h.)
    This course focuses on the social function of dance in the Renaissance and its interconnection with societal manners and behavior. Also examined will be the dramatic use of the discourse of dance to further plot and reveal character. Students will learn to recognize the metaphorical use of dance in dramatic texts as well as reconstruct and perform dances based on manuals of the period. Emphasis is placed on country and court dances as well as dances of symbolism and ritual. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 620 Audience Studies (3 s.h.)
    This course explores the relationship between audiences and performance, looking in unique depth at the psychology of audiences, at an audience’s needs and expectations, at the ways in which dramatists include (or exclude) an audience, and at the uses (and abuses) of a visible audience. Using the resources of the Blackfriars stage and performances, prospective directors gain practical experience in the care and handling of audiences. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 630 Visual Design on the Early Modern Stage (3 s.h.)
    This course challenges students to examine and explore — in the absence of sets — visually exciting stage action and pictures through the use of movement, blocking, props, and costumes. Special attention is given to the stage pictures that Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote into the plays. Students consider the importance of visual variety and discover the dramatic potential in a range of staging devices such as crowd scenes and balcony scenes. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 640 Combat (3 s.h.)
    Students focus on performing stage combat that is both safe and dramatically effective. The course offers a physical vocabulary in one or more techniques: unarmed, single sword, rapier & dagger, broadsword, quarterstaff, or knife. At the discretion of the instructor, students can qualify for Skills Proficiency Testing with the Society of American Fight Directors on the last day of class. This course may be taken more than once, as different weapon proficiencies are featured, cyclically. Elective. Offered twice annually in fall and summer terms.

    REN 650 Directing II (3 s.h.)
    Further explores the art of directing with emphasis on the early modern stage, culminating in practical experience before an audience. Elective. Offered annually in spring term.

    REN 660 Acting for the Early Modern Stage (3 s.h.)
    This course continues the work normally included in an acting class, but stresses acting for the Shakespearean stage. Students experiment with a range of acting techniques from the most traditional to the most contemporary, but always with a view to the architecture and audience environment of Shakespeare’s theatre. Strongly suggested prerequisites: REN 530, 531, 555, and 556. Elective. Offered annually in fall term.

    REN 670 Dramaturgy (3 s.h.)
    This practicum course focuses on production dramaturgy for Shakespearean plays and adaptations for the American stage. Students experience the dramaturg’s role in each phase of the theatrical process, from the pre-production, rehearsal, and post-show stage of production. The course provides instruction in the component skills of the art of dramaturgy, and teaches students how to creatively collaborate as dramaturgs with members of a production team seeking to produce Shakespeare for audiences today.
    *Required for MLitt core. Offered annually in fall term.

    REN 675 Early Modern Costume (3 s.h.)
    Students research contemporary records, museum pieces, and portraiture; learn play analysis from the costumer’s point of view; prepare costume dramaturgy reports; design costumes for characters from an early modern play; and learn and practice early modern construction techniques. Students also work closely with actors in the annual MFA acting production. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 680 Gender and Performance: Theory and Practice (3 s.h.)
    Examines theories of gender as performance and theories of gender in performance to develop critical tools for understanding social construction of gender in theater. English Renaissance cross-dressing of boy actors to play women’s roles grounds performance analysis and discussion. Also considers other theatrical practices, including the contemporary. Helpful to students who want background in critical theory before continuing to a doctoral program. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 682 Playwriting (3 s.h.)
    This course combines an historical focus on the playwriting culture of early modern England with practical experience creating plays within the period’s theatrical conventions. Stresses collaboration in both its historical and practical emphases. Elective. Offered as needed.

    REN 686 Clown (3 s.h.)
    Students in this performance-based class investigate the internal logic of the clown mind and the clown’s external physical characteristics. Students engage in exercises, improvisations, drills, and scene work to explore these concepts. Clown history, make-up, a brief overview of Mask, the art of physical comedy, and intellectual and physical exploration of “What is Funny” will be covered. A willingness to publicly make a fool out of oneself while supporting others in that artistic risk is mandatory. Elective. Generally offered alternate summers.

    REN 687 Internship (1–6 s.h.)
    A number of internships are regularly available at the American Shakespeare Center, either for or not for credit, at the student’s discretion. Students may seek internships with other organizations, as well. Credit varies, with approximately 50 hours of work equivalent to 1 s.h. of credit. 1–6 s.h. of internship credit can count towards the total number of hours required for graduation. Any internship hours above 6 require special approval from the program director. See Student Handbook for more detailed information about internships and approval forms. Elective. Approval of program director is required. Offered every term. Not recommended for first year students until summer.

    REN 695 Thesis Symposium (3 s.h.)
    The symposium prepares students to plan, research, write, present, and defend his or her MLitt thesis. The course begins with a consideration of the aims, kinds, purpose, audience, and scope of theses and includes analysis of pre-existing student theses. Ultimately, the objective of the short course is for each student, through workshops and one-on-one work with the instructor, to produce a thesis prospectus and bibliography. Elective. Offered annually in May Terms.

    REN 700 Thesis Project for the MLitt (3 s.h.)
    The MLitt thesis is an individually designed project with written and practical components. *Required for MLitt core. Strongly recommended prerequisite: REN 590 or REN 695. Approval of faculty supervisor and program director is required. Offered every term.

    REN 701 MLitt Thesis Extension (0 s.h.)
    Students who need more time to complete the MLitt thesis project must register for this extension continually, for each fall and spring term (not summer), until thesis is completed. REN 701 does not appear on academic transcripts once REN 700 is complete. Offered fall and spring terms. $750 fee.

     

    MFA Course Descriptions

    REN 810 Company Management (3 s.h.)
    Principles and practices of theatre management. This course looks at the fundamentals of creating a company. Topics include designing a mission statement, choosing a location, incorporating, recruiting, building, and managing a board, fundraising, building a budget, and basic business practices. Instruction includes resident and guest faculty. Students are to put into the practice of the MFA company the principles learned in the course.

    REN 811 Company Marketing (3 s.h.)
    Principles and practices of theatre marketing. This course surveys the evolving world of arts marketing from traditional paid marketing to “free marketing” and the use of social networking. Topics will include branding, brand building, pricing, news releases, print and media advertising, social networking, and auxiliary sales. Instruction includes resident and guest faculty. Students are to put into the practice of the MFA company the principles learned in the course.

    REN 812 Company Acting A (3 s.h.)
    Students will take a major or featured role (or roles) in one or more of the MFA company productions. Building on their knowledge of Shakespeare’s theatre, performance practices, and audiences, students will experiment with a range of acting techniques and styles from the most traditional to the most contemporary in conventional, community, in house, and found spaces. Acting journals will serve as resource material for the Company Book thesis project. Resident and guest faculty offer instruction.

    REN 813 Company Directing A (3 s.h)
    Students will direct or co-direct one or more of the MFA company productions. Developing their abilities as creative artists and passionate storytellers, students will explore various aspects of directing, including (though not limited to) character and text analysis, pre-production and script scoring, choreography and composition, actor coaching techniques and rehearsal protocol, and collaboration with technical and design teams. Directing journals will serve as resource material for the Company Book thesis project. Resident and guest faculty offer instruction.

    REN 814 Company Dramaturgy A (3. s.h.)
    This course emphasizes script selection and preparation; documentation of rehearsal and performance practices; preparation of para-textual and para-performative materials; and strategies for sharing information with audiences before, during, and after performance. Instruction includes resident and guest faculty. Students are to put into the practice of the MFA company the principles learned in the course.

    REN 815 Thesis A (3 s.h.)
    Working with resident and guest faculty, MFA degree candidates dramaturg, rehearse, direct, and perform four to five early modern and early modern inspired pieces over the course of the calendar year. Each student will also contribute a chapter to a collectively composed “Company Book” that chronicles the research into and performance of the company repertory but also explores a particular theme as directed by program faculty.

    REN 822 Company Acting B (3 s.h.)
    Students will take a major or featured role (or roles) in one or more of the MFA company productions. Building on their knowledge of Shakespeare’s theatre, performance practices, and audiences, students will experiment with a range of acting techniques and styles from the most traditional to the most contemporary in conventional, community, in-house, and found spaces. Acting journals will serve as resource material for the Company Book thesis project. Resident and guest faculty offer instruction.

    REN 823 Company Directing B (3 s.h)
    Students will direct or co-direct one or more of the MFA company productions. Developing their abilities as creative artists and passionate storytellers, students will explore various aspects of directing, including (though not limited to) character and text analysis, pre-production and script scoring, choreography and composition, actor coaching techniques and rehearsal protocol, and collaboration with technical and design teams. Directing journals will serve as resource material for the Company Book thesis project. Resident and guest faculty offer instruction.

    REN 824 Company Dramaturgy B (3. s.h.)
    This course emphasizes script selection and preparation; the digital documentation of rehearsal and performance practices; the preparation of para-textual and para-performative materials; and strategies for sharing information with audiences before, during, and after performance. Instruction includes resident and guest faculty. Students are to put into the practice of the MFA company the principles learned in the course.

    REN 825 Thesis B (3 s.h.)
    Working with resident and guest faculty, MFA degree candidates dramaturg, rehearse, direct, and perform four to five early modern and early modern inspired pieces over the course of the calendar year. Each student will also contribute a chapter to a collectively composed “Company Book” thesis project that chronicles the research into and performance of the company repertory but also explores a particular theme as directed by program faculty.