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Academic Year: Spring/Summer 2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Peter Cockett


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 404

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27662

Office Hours: Tuesday 12-1pm

Course Objectives:

The Theatre and Film Studies program examines the complex ways in which theatre and film production engage audiences with the cultural and social forces at work in their society. Dramatic story-telling in theatre and cinema is a form of communication that uses actions and material objects drawn from our everyday worlds to create fictional worlds in which we can test hypotheses about human relationships and social structures. Some artists are explicitly aware of this function and the potential it contains for promoting social change, while others operate within their society’s dominant ideologies creating work that supports current cultural norms. In this course, students will analyze a range of theatre and cinema forms that is representative of the creative work studied in the Theatre and Film Studies program. By the end of the course, students will be able to imagine productions of play texts, recommending specific production choices that will engage a McMaster audience with central issues in those texts, and analyze the creative decisions behind cinematic productions in order to reveal the way they affirm or challenge values and patterns of interaction that structure everyday lives. They will also learn how to write effective papers that analyze performance and the way creative choices structure audience response.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Wadsworth Anthology of Drama, brief Sixth edition, available at TITLES or the TANK.

"Film as Cultural Practice," by Robert Kolker, available on Avenue


Plays (all found in Wadsworth):

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House.

Brecht, Bertholt. Mother Courage and her Children

Churchill, Carol. Cloud Nine

Padmanabhan, Manjula. Harvest



Cameron, James. Avatar - rentable

Griffiths, DW. The Female of the Species– class viewing and VHS copy ON RESERVE at the MILLS LIBRARY in the DW Griffiths collection The Biograph Series vol. 2.

Griffiths, DW. The Battle of Elderbush Gulch – class viewing and VHS copy ON RESERVE at the MILLS LIBRARY in the DW Griffiths collection The Biograph Series vol. 1.

Niro, Shelley. The Shirt – class viewing and ON RESERVE at the MILLS LIBRARY

Method of Assessment:


Short Essay on A Doll House:  due in DROPBOX May 20th (graded before June 5th)            5%

Multiple Choice Test (in class): May 22nd (graded before June 5th)            10%

Group Presentation (sign up in class on May 13th):            20%

Individual Essay based on the Presentation

(due one week after oral presentation):            30%

Group Presentation Response (due 2 days after the Presentation, sign up in class)            10%

Participation:             15%

Final Exam (in class)            10%

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late penalty for written assignments is 5% per day, or 25% per week unless the student has a justified absence from the University.  After one week, late papers will not be accepted, except in the case of a justified absence.

NB.  Students with disabilities can receive accommodations to assist them in the completion of their assignments and exams.  Please contact the Centre for Student Development for advice and for arranging assistance. The Centre can also help with essay writing, time management and procrastination problems.  Please look into their services if you feel you need help with any of these issues. 

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


Detailed descriptions of assignments will be found on the course website. Please consult these instructions before beginning work on your assignments. All written assignments, with the exception of exams and multiple-choice tests, must be typed. Students must retain digital copies of all pieces of work submitted and graded during the term. All essay assignments must be submitted to the assigned Avenue to Learn Dropbox. All papers in the Dropboxes will be automatically submitted to Turnitin. Your paper will be used by Turnitin to create a database that will help prevent plagiarism in this class. Should you object to such use of your work, you may submit your paper in the "Alternative Dropbox" on the Course Avenue to Learn site.

Attendance at lectures is compulsory.  Students are expected to have completed assigned readings and view assigned films before the relevant lectures.  Lectures will not summarize the text or describe the films and students will gain more from lectures if they are already familiar with the work and have already considered the social values it embodies. Students who are absent for their group presentation or the presentation they have signed up to report on will receive a grade of 0 unless they present documentation to the Faculty office justifying their absence on that day. Attendance will be taken at lectures.

The participation mark for the course will reflect the quality of the student's participation in class discussion, and on-line discussions.  A high quality of participation depends on careful reading of assigned material and careful consideration of information and opinions presented by the professor. Unless the student has significant and verifiable telepathic abilities, s/he should consider that physical presence in the classroom is a necessary precondition for participation.

Lectures: Each three-hour lecture will be divided up into different phases as the class progresses. The first part will usually be more formal and the second more informal. Once we progress into the second half of the course, the second half of the lectures will be taken up with your group presentations and feedback sessions. The presentations and informal discussion provide the opportunity for students to develop their analytical skills and test their ideas. I strongly encourage you all to participate in discussion.

A short essay on A Doll House will test your ability to use a particular element of dramatic performance to create the conditions in which an audience might start to think about an important theme in A Doll House.  It will also test your ability to make a convincing argument in favour of your proposed use of this production element.  This assignment is largely diagnostic and should help you understand the expectations of the course before you complete your oral presentation and longer written assignment.

A short multiple-choice test will examine your detailed knowledge of the material covered in the course to this point.

Group presentations will be done in groups and will consist of a proposal for the performance of a scene, or the analysis of important production elements in a film, examining how the production choices affirm or challenge social norms.  A 15 minute presentation of the proposal or analysis will be made during lectures for the whole class. Details of the assignment can be found on the course website. Students will sign up for a specific presentation date in class May 13th.

Following discussion of their oral presentation in class, each group member will have 1 week to edit a 4-5 page individual essay arguing for the significance of the particular use of the production element on which they concentrated in the oral presentation. When developing this essay, students should clearly identify ideas and information that were generated in group discussion or contributed by another group member and distinguish these from material they themselves have generated for the individual essay. They should use the class response and Presentation Responses as inspiration to increase the complexity of their arguments.

Presentation Responses will be prepared in groups of up to 6.  You will sign up in class on for a specific date on which to prepare your report. Sign up sheets will be available on May 13th. If you are presenting on a theatre piece then your report must be on a film presentation and vice versa. Please be sure you sign up for a Presentation Response report on a different date than the date of your presentation. A collective report from the group must be posted on Avenue no later than TWO days after the Presentation on which you are reporting. A printed version of the Response, signed by all those who prepared it, should be submitted to your professor in class one week after the Presentation on which you report. Details of this assignment can be found on the course website.

The final exam will cover assigned readings and viewing not covered in the multiple choice test.