This course examines one of the most popular of all theatrical genres — the comedy of mistaken identity. We’ll begin with Plautus, who provided the template for the mayhem to follow — a heritage of long-lost children (and their parents), twins (of the same or opposite sexes), disguise, crossdressing, and love and/or sex at first sight. Central to our project will be the question of how and why writers use these and other conventions to explore and explode the mysteries of identity and why the theater is the best venue for their explorations and explosions.
Sample reading list:
Plautus, The Brothers Menaechmus
Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night
Hanna Cowley, The Belle’s Strategem
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Churchill, Cloud Nine
One play and 50-100 pages of critical reading per week.