Upper-Division Seminar : Joyce's Ulysses and the Stage

Course Number: ENGL 197
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: This course cannot be repeated and is limited to upper-division English majors only.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 197
Quarter: Fall 2010
Day(s): MW
Time: 2:00 - 3:15 PM
Location: SH 2617

This class will explore Joyce's Ulysses in relation to 20th-century dramatic and musical trends. We will begin with a brief study of Richard Wagner, the composer whose "total art-works" ushered in new eras of theater, music, and philosophy. Bernard Shaw's writings on Wagner and Nietzsche will help us pivot to a study of dramas by Shaw, Ibsen, and Yeats--like Wagner, figures very much on Joyce's mind for reasons both aesthetic (naturalism, anti-naturalism, synthesis of arts,...) and political (Irish home rule, the Gaelic question, the woman question, the Jewish question,...). Then, after encountering music and the stage in Joyce's Ibsenesque play Exiles and selected Dubliners stories, we will read Ulysses in its entirety. In discussing how the novel builds on its theatrical influences, we will attend both to its striking experiments with form and genre and to its "stagings" of political conflict (the climactic "Circe" episode, for example, is written more or less as a stage play, with some Wagner thrown in for good measure). Thus we will situate Ulysses both as a novel shaped by the theatrical tradition, and as a text deeply engaged with politics and history. We will close by examining Joseph Strick's film Ulysses and Marjorie Barkentin's Ulysses in Nighttown; we may also examine George Antheil's attempted collaboration with Joyce on an operatic version of "Cyclops," or Luigi Dallapiccola's opera Ulisse as a rival modernist take on the Odysseus story. The final seminar paper will build from student presentations on specific aspects of 20th-century theatre history and/or political history.