Level 5 (15 credits)

Naturalism seems to be the theatre that all fashionable modern theatre people love to hate. This module aims to reconnect with the original dynamic energy of naturalist theatre, and to trace a century-long fascination with the art of making it look and feel real. We will look at new discoveries and explorations of nineteenth century science, and at radical moves in painting and literature, as a way of framing our exploration of naturalist drama itself. We will find out why it was so offensive to see a version of your own living room on stage and how theatre started to bring all the sordid realities of everyday life on stage. Seminars will involve extensive study of naturalist plays, from Ibsen and Strindberg, via Franz Xavier Kroetz to Richard Maxwell, film screenings and critical and historical texts that place the phenomenon of naturalism in historical and aesthetic context.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

In advance of the module students might find it helpful to read the key texts which will include:

  • Ibsen - A Doll's House
  • Strindberg - Miss Julie
  • Williams - A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Zola - Therese Raquin
  • Tim Crouch - The Author (please note that this play includes some distressing scenes)
  • Stanislavski - An Actor Prepares

You will be asked to study closely some key Naturalists text, and while most of these can be read for free online, you may find it aids your learning to purchase these second hand - they will usually cost £1-2 each - so the total expenditure will total roughly £5. You may be asked to attend a live performance if a relevant show is taking place in London - in which cae, please expect to included return tube travel to Zone 1 on one occasion.

Why take

  • Discover how unnatural Naturalism is
  • Revisit well-known Naturalist texts and artists in the light of the scientific discoveries of the period
  • Consider where Naturalism has gone now (clue: Gogglebox....).
Learning Context Seminar-based
Semester One
  1. Presentation (5-7 min), 30%
  2. Essay (2500 words), 70%
Mode of reassessment Standard