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Course Descriptions

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 (0 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 coreOffered annually.

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 courseOffered 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 coreOffered 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 coreOffered annually.

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 coreOffered 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. ElectiveOffered 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.

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.ElectiveOffered 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 faculty internship supervisor 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 requiredElective. 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 531ElectiveOffered as needed.

REN 605 Performance on the Blackfriars Stage (3 s.h.)
Working with ASC actors, students explore the particular dynamics required of performers at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Through one-on-one training and scene work, students develop the physical and vocal tools demanded by the Blackfriars’ particular playhouse environment. ElectiveOffered in May Terms.

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 alternate years.

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. ElectiveOffered 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 (Fall or Spring and Summer).

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. ElectiveOffered annually.

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. Scene work culminates in practical experience before an audience. Strongly suggested prerequisites: REN 530, 531, 555, and 556. Elective.Offered annually.

REN 670 Dramaturgy (3 s.h.) 
A graduate seminar for MLitt/MFA students on Production and Institutional Dramaturgy. Topics include: text preparation, pre-production and rehearsal work related to issues of design, direction, and performance; script evaluation, translation and adaptation; formulation of artistic policy; program and study notes; and plans for audience discussion and outreach activities. *Required for MLitt coreOffered annually.

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. ElectiveOffered alternate years in Spring term.

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 occasionally.

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. ElectiveOffered 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 faculty internship supervisor 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 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 requiredOffered 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. REN 701 does not appear on academic transcripts once REN 700 is complete. Offered every term. $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.