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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Peter Cockett


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 404

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27662

Office Hours: TSH 511, Wednesday 1.30-2:20pm, or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Calendar Description

An exploration of how different forms of theatre and cinema tell stories and of the social impact of these forms.


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 storytelling 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.


Theatre & Film Studies Fall Major Production

Students must also attend a performance of the School of the Arts Fall Major Production of William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, November 7-9 and 13-16, 2012. There will be a question about the production on the final exam.


Course Website:

The Avenue to Learn (Avenue) e-learning website for this course can be accessed at

To log on, enter your Mac User ID and password. 

    Avenue User ID = your MAC ID User ID (eg: if your muss email id is:; then your Avenue username is: janed)

    Avenue Password = your MAC ID password

Click on the tab “Courses” at the top of the page and choose “2013 Fall (T1) THTRFLM 1T03: Theatre, Cinema and Society


The Avenue site contains many resources that will be useful for this course including a calendar, text from lecture powerpoints, links to useful web resources, which are mainly organized in learning modules.  It is the main communication site for the course and will contain all time-sensitive announcements as well as discussion forums. Please consult the site at least once a week and use it to participate in discussions of material covered in class and in tutorials.


Dr. Cockett will read discussion postings weekly, but will not always respond to specific questions in Avenue to Learn discussions, though he may take these up in lectures.  These discussions are primarily a place where you can compare notes with other students, find out what is being discussed in other tutorials and help each other master the skills necessary to succeed in this course. Your participation grade will be partly determined by the number and quality of your postings in discussion groups. Computer facilities are available in Humanities computing labs TSH 206 and TSH 209, or the CIS labs in KTH B121.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Method of Assessment:


Short Essay on A Doll House:  due in tutorial Oct. 7                                                       5%

Multiple Choice Test: Oct. 16                                                                                                                                               10%

Group Presentation in Tutorial (sign up in tutorial Sept. 23-27):                                 15%

Individual Essay based on the Presentation

(due one week after oral presentation):                                                                          20%

Group Tutorial Report (due 2 days after the tutorial, sign up in tutorial Sept. 23-27): 10%

Participation:                                                                                                                 15%

Final Exam:                                                                                                                     25%



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 copies of all pieces of work submitted and graded during the term.  All essay assignments must be submitted to the assigned AVENUE TO LEARN DROPBOXES. T.A.s may also request a printed version of the paper to be submitted in tutorial. Papers will be automatically submitted to Turnitin from the Avenue Dropboxes. (Please see University Policy on Turnitin under “Academic Integrity” in “Important Notes” below.)


Attendance at lectures and tutorials is compulsory.  Students are expected to have completed assigned readings and view assigned films BEFORE the relevant lectures and tutorials.  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 tutorial they have signed up to report on will receive a grade of zero unless they present documentation to the Faculty office justifying their absence on that day.


The participation mark for the course will reflect the quality of the student's participation in tutorials, class 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, teaching assistants and fellow students in lectures, tutorials and online discussions. 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. T.A.s will run pop quizzes on the reading material at the start of each class. These quizzes will contribute to your participation grade.



Tutorials will start on Monday, September 16, 2013.  All students will be assigned to a tutorial, which is an integral part of the course. Tutorials provide the opportunity for students to develop their analytical skills, test their ideas and engage in more in-depth discussion than is possible in the lecture context.  Assignments, with the exception of multiple choice tests and the final exam, will be given out and presented in tutorials and will be marked by teaching assistants under the supervision of the instructor.


A short essay on Doll House will test your ability to use a particular element of dramatic performance to engage an audience with an important issue in Ibsen's 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 knowledge of the material covered in the course to this point. It will also help you prepare for the multiple-choice section on the Final Exam.

For group presentations on plays you will imagine that you are a production team applying to produce your particular play. You will focus on the performance of one scene and show how your production choices will create social perspective on the action of the scene. For group presentations on films you will imagine that you are applying to a film festival committee and arguing why your chosen film should be included in the festival, analyzing how the specific choices made by the filmmakers create a social perspective important to the mandate of the festival. A 15 minute presentation of the proposal will be made in tutorial. Details of the assignment can be found on the course website. Students will sign up for a specific presentation date in tutorial the week of Sept. 23-27th.

Following discussion of their oral presentation in the tutorial, 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.

Tutorial Reports will be prepared in groups of 2 or 3.  You will sign up on in tutorial for a specific date on which to prepare your report. Sign up sheets will be available the week Sept. 23-27th in tutorial. 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 tutorial 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 tutorial on which you are reporting. A printed version of the report, signed by all those who prepared it, should be submitted to your TA in the tutorial meeting one week after the tutorial on which you report. The report should be no longer than 500 words and should summarize the main points raised in that day’s discussions, indicating points on which there was clear agreement or disagreement and issues that came out of the discussion but were not resolved in that particular tutorial meeting. Since the purpose of these reports is to promote informed debate over the course of the term, reports will be evaluated on the accuracy and significance of your observations, on your ability to communicate them clearly, and the degree to which they increase the complexity of argument.

The final exam will cover assigned readings and viewing, material discussed in lectures and skills practiced in the tutorial sessions.  It will include multiple choice and short answer questions.

Late Assignments:

Late penalty for written assignments is 5% per day, calculated from the beginning of your tutorial time, 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. 






September 9              Introduction to course

September 11            The Myth of Realism and the Languages of Performance


Sep 16-20                   Tutorial: Introductions and Discussion of Course Objectives


September 16            Linear Narrative Conventions and their Consequences

September 18            Theatre and Cinema as Cultural Products and Producers of Culture

                                   Read “Film as Cultural Practice” from the Course Reader


Sep 23-27                   Tutorial: Performance Analysis – Preparing for the Short Essay. Sign up for Presentations and Tutorial reports




September 23            Cultural Context for A Doll House – Social Realism

                                   Read A Doll House before this class

September 25            Lecture on A Doll House


Sep 30-Oct 4              Tutorial: Discussion of A Doll House and Short Essay assignment.


September 30            Cultural Context for Mother Courage - Epic Theatre

Read Mother Courage before this class

October 2                  Lecture on Mother Courage as Epic Theatre


Oct. 7                        DEADLINE! A Doll House Essay due. Submit on Avenue to Learn. NO TUTORIAL.

October 7                   Lecture/Demonstration: Elements of Film Narrative


October 9                  Lecture/Demonstration: How to create a presentation for this class – The Female of the Species -           Watch The Female of the Species before this class


Oct 7-11                     Tutorial: Discussion of Mother Courage and Epic Theatre


October 14                THANKSGIVING. NO CLASS.


Oct. 16                      DEADLINE! Mid Term Test – in class

                                   Viewing The Female of the Species – in class


Oct 14-18                   Tutorial: No Tutorial


October 21                Cultural Contexts: Early American Cinema and Canadian Video Art

                                   Watch The Battle of Elderbush Gulch and The Shirt before this class

                                    Read Franz Fanon, "The Fact of Blackness," in Worthen, pp. 1047-1057


October 23                Cultural Contexts: Colonialism and Post-Colonialism


Oct 21-25                   Tutorial: Discussion of A Doll House Short Essay assignment. What did you learn?




October 28                Cultural Contexts: Devised Theatre

                                   Read Cloud Nine before this class

October 30                Lecture on Cloud Nine


Oct 28-Nov 1             Tutorial: Elderbush Gulch and The Shirt Presentations


November 4               Cultural Contexts: Theatre and Multi-Media

                                   Read Harvest before this class

November 6               Lecture on Harvest


Nov 4- Nov 8             Tutorial: Cloud Nine Presentations


November 11             Cultural Contexts: The Hollywood Movie Industry

                                   Watch Avatar before this class

November 13             Lecture on Avatar


Nov 11-15                  Tutorial: Harvest Presentations


November                  Preview of School of the Arts Fall Major Production  (Preferred ticketing for 1T03 students for the preview, November 7th.  Only 150 tickets available per night. Tickets available from School of the Arts, TSH room 414, EXT. 27671). Continues Nov. 8-9 and 13–16.




November 18+20       Performance Creation as Problem Solving, discussion with members

                                   of the production team for the Fall Major Production       


Nov 21- Nov 27         Tutorial: Avatar Presentations


November 25+27       Performance Creation as Problem Solving, discussion with members

                                   of the production team for the Fall Major Production


Nov 27-28                  Tutorial: Discussion of Major Production


Dec 2 – 4                    Review and Exam Prep

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:


Custom Courseware:

1T03: THEATRE, CINEMA and SOCIETY, available at TITLES.


Available from Titles or the Tank

Wadsworth Anthology of Drama, brief Sixth edition, available at TITLES


Specific plays to read (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 Short Films vol. 2. – also accessible on YouTube

Griffiths, DW. The Battle of Elderbush Gulch – class viewing and VHS copy ON RESERVE at the MILLS LIBRARY in the DW Griffiths collection Short Films, vol. 1 – also accessible on YouTube

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

Other Course Information:


In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn (Avenue). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.  To protect your privacy, DO NOT include your student number on postings to the Avenue website for this class.

ACADEMIC SUPPORT SERVICES:  Students are encouraged to take advantage of the academic support services provided by the Centre for Student Development.  Information about the Centre’s services, which include help with note taking in lectures, writing skills, study habits, time management, motivation, reading, note-taking, preparing for exams and English as a second language, can be found on their web site at A link to this site can be found on the Links page of the Avenue site for this class.

Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the services offered at Mills Memorial Library, the centre of the Humanities collection on campus.  Information on Library services can be found at