In the first two decades of the 21st century, human existence has been made more precarious by racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia; war and conflict; global warming; health inequities; and widening social and economic disparities. Contemporary American playwrights have held up a powerful mirror to such inequities, and deployed the real bodies of actors to bring to light the stories of those whose very existence has been placed at risk. In so doing, they do not simply reify simplistic stories of either victimhood or inspirational overcoming. Rather, they assert these stories as a fundamental part of American identity, taking a more complex, nuanced look at what it means to navigate systemic inequity while asserting identity, integrity, and dignity. In this course, we will look at plays from the last two decades of American drama that take inequity and its aftereffects as their main concern. The plays we read take up issues including gender transition; the school-to-prison pipeline; bullying; the institutionalization of disabled people; the immigrant experience, especially that of women; the erasure of people of color; the effects of the loss of heavy industry in rural America; and the lack of universal health care. How does the stage invite us to debate the ethical questions at the heart of such inequities? How does drama not only invite our empathy, but spur us toward the deeper understanding of experiences different from our own that might result in meaningful systemic change? 

Readings may include:  
Christopher Demos-Brown, American Son
Lindsey Farentino, Amy and the Orphans
David Valdes Greenwood, The Mermaid Hour
Amy Herzog, Mary Jane
Stephen Karam, The Humans
Mike Lew, Teenage Dick
Martyna Majok, Cost of Living
Martyna Majok, Queens
Lynn Nottage, Sweat
Antoinette Nwadu, Pass Over
Anna Deavere Smith, Notes from the Field

Satisfies a English major and minor requirement.
Satisfies a Theatre minor requirement.
Satisfies Gender and Sexuality Studies major and minor requirement.
Satisfies the Literary Studies, Creative Writing & Rhetoric requirement.
Satisfies the Justice, Equality, and Community requirement.


Class Details
Course ENG 262
Section 0
CRN 20198
Time M W F
Time 1200 - 1250pm
Building 157 WATSON
Instructor Ann Fox
Max 30
Current 0
Remaining 30
Semester Spring 2022