Verse in Shows: Poetry on Stage, 405 B.C.E.-2015 A.D.

From Attic tragedies to Broadway musicals, verse forms have been central to the way theater works. Playwrights have deployed them to deliver powerful, sometimes subliminal effects to the ears of audiences well-versed in registering them. In plays ranging from Euripides’ Bakkhai through Elizabethan and Restoration theater to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, we’ll look at, and above all listen for, the intricate interactions of verse, prose, and song, trying to work out how they may have operated on their original audiences (whose ears were often in such matters more acute than ours), and how we can make sense of and savor them now.

Sample reading list:
Euripides, Bakkhai (trans. Anne Carson)
Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
John Dryden, Marriage A-la-Mode
John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Reading/Writing assignments:
Short paper (1000 words) Term paper (2000 words or more) Two colloquium presentations (1000 words and 300 words) Quizzes, Take-home final (with oral presentation of final on exam day)


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Stuart Sherman

Visiting Professor of English


S01 - Stuart Sherman

Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30 - 2:40 pm


Stuart Sherman