Do You Know About the Dramatic Literature Major in English?

by George Hajjar

In the English department there are a few different routes that students can choose as major, and one you may not have considered is through the Dramatic Literature Program. Students can major, minor, or take classes in this interdisciplinary theater studies program, which mobilizes the resources and coursework from English and related departments throughout the entire university. As a Dramatic Literature major, students can gain the perspective of Gallatin or Tisch without ever leaving CAS.

 The program is divided into three general areas: Dramatic Literature, Cinema, and Practical Theatre (yes, spelled the British way). The first category casts an analytic, scholarly light on drama, focusing on genre, playwrights, historical context around the form, etc. The second area hones in on the practical and literary approaches of cinema and cinematic performance. This means that students may take courses in cinematic themes, or genres, but also in film production. Lastly, Practical Theatre concentrates on drama as a creative, performative act. This means that students explore acting, playwriting, stage production, and other related fields.

An interesting part of this major is the sheer scope and influence of Dramatic Literature as a performative art form. In addition to classes in Shakespeare, the father of drama in English, the program also offers classes in Traditional Drama in China and Japan, giving students insight into the art form as a global craft. Moreover, courses like “Race and Ethnicity in Performance” give students tools to look at the world through different lenses.

When I studied abroad in London, I took the “Modern Drama and Performance of Art in London” class, and it made me appreciate the work of independent theatre companies, and so-called fringe theatre. Every week we attended shows in venues all over London, which brought me into areas I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. Now I realize there is a New York equivalent of this class, and any student in the English department is welcome take it.

If you would like any more information, or are thinking about pursuing a major or minor in Dramatic Literature, you can go to their site, or contact the program director, Brandon Woolf.