Core Curriculum

Core Curricular 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 for the Early Modern Stage (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 interested in applying 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.)

See the course descriptions below

Core Curricular Requirements for the Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA)

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

Summer 1

REN 810 Company Dramaturgy (3 s.h.)
REN 811 Company Management (3 s.h.)

Fall Term

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

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.)

See the course descriptions below

 

MLitt Course Descriptions

Core Curriculum

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 terms.

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 550 Social History of Early Modern England (3 s.h.)                                                                                                                                                                                This course explores some of the significant aspects of daily life in England between 1460 and 1660.  Topics include the structures of power and authority, family life, urban and rural life, the roles of women and men, and popular religion. *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 terms.

REN 553 Directing for the Early Modern Stage (3 s.h.)
This course teaches the skills essential to directing early modern drama on the Blackfriars stage. Course work includes staging various common scenarios – soliloquies, dialogues, group and problem scenes, etc. – supported by readings and discussions of Shakespeare directors and scholars concerning the practical issues of staging early modern plays. These issues include but are not limited to: play selection and casing, script analysis and table work, scheduling and programing, rehearsal strategies, and performance preparation. The final project includes a paper and a directed scene in a Blackfriars Playhouse showcase. *Required for MLitt core. Offered in fall and spring terms.

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 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. Offered every term.

 

Featured Electives

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. 

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.

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 and 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.

REN 650 Topics in Directing (3 s.h.)
Usually taught by a guest director, this course introduces students to the artist’s directing style or to a major directorial approach to the staging of early modern plays in contemporary theater. Building on the foundational skills learned in REN 531, such exposure allows advanced students to develop their directorial styles and methods.

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.

 

MFA Course Descriptions

REN 810 Company Dramaturgy (3 s.h.)
Company Dramaturgy teaches and puts into practice the dramaturgical fundamentals of creating a company. This practicum graduate seminar for the incoming MFA students will focus on the collaborative development of key dramaturgical components of the third year’s company. These components include: a name and guiding mission statement for the company; a season repertory for the company; cast and production role assignments for the company’s season; and a table of contents for the company’s book.

REN 811 Company Management (3 s.h.)
Principles and practices of theatre marketing. This course explores the fundamentals of creating a theatre company. Topics include organizational structure and operations, development, managing a board, fundraising, building a budget, and basic business practices. Other topics include the business of publicity, marketing, and social media; the business of educational programming; and the role of stage management and costume design in the company model. Resident and guest faculty provide instruction for MFA students to put into practice the company building 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.

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