Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

THTRFLM 1T03 Theatre, Cinema & Society

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Peter Cockett


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 404

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27662

Office Hours: Monday 10.30-11.20am

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.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Custom Courseware:

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


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

Theatre & Film Studies Fall Major Production

Students must also attend a performance of the School of the Arts Fall Major Production of David Yee's Lady in the Red Dress, November 12-14 and 18-21, 2015. There will be a question about the production on the final exam.

Method of Assessment:

Short Essay on A Doll House:  due in Dropbox Oct. 9  (5%)

Multiple Choice Test: Oct. 19 (10%)

Group Presentation in Tutorial (sign up in tutorial Sept. 21-25) (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. 21-25 (10%)

Participation (15%)

Final Exam (25%)

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:


September 10           Introduction to course

September 14           The Myth of Realism and the Languages of Performance

September 17           The Elements of Theatrical Production

Sep 14-18                  Tutorial: Introductions and Discussion of Course Objectives

September 21           Linear Narrative Conventions and their Consequences and Theatre and Cinema as Cultural Products and Producers of Culture. Read “Film as Cultural Practice” from the Course Reader           


September 24          Cultural Context for A Doll House – Social Realism (Read A Doll House before this class)

Sep 21-25                 Tutorial: Performance Analysis – Preparing for the Short Essay. Sign up for Presentations and Tutorial reports

September 28          Lecture on A Doll House

October 1                Cultural Context for Mother Courage - Epic Theatre (Read Mother Courage before this class)

Sep 28-Oct 2            Tutorial: Discussion of A Doll House and Short Essay assignment.

October 5                Lecture on Mother Courage as Epic Theatre

October 8                Lecture/Demonstration: Elements of Film Narrative

Oct 5-9                     Tutorial: Discussion of Mother Courage and Epic Theatre

Oct. 9                      DEADLINE! A Doll House Essay due. Submit on Avenue to Learn.

October 12             Thanksgiving. NO CLASS.

October 15             Mid-term Break. NO CLASS.

Oct.  19                  DEADLINE! Mid Term Test – in class.  – in-class Viewing: Female of the Species

October 22            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 19-23               No Tutorial

October 26           Cultural Contexts: Colonialism and Post-Colonialism

October 29           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

Oct 26-Oct 30           Tutorial: Discussion of A Doll House Short Essay assignment. What did you learn? Planning for



November 2            Cultural Contexts: Devised Theatre Read Cloud Nine before this class

November 5            Lecture on Cloud Nine

Nov 2 - Nov 6            Tutorial: Elderbush Gulch and The Shirt Presentations

November 9             Cultural Contexts: Theatre and Multi-Media. Read Harvest before this class

November 12            Lecture on Harvest

Nov 9-13                   Tutorial: Cloud Nine Presentations

November 12         Preview of School of the Arts Fall Major Production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (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. 13-14 and 18–21.

November 16         Cultural Contexts: The Hollywood Movie Industry. Watch Avatar before this class

November 19         Lecture on Avatar

Nov 16-20               Tutorial: Harvest Presentations


November 23+26   Performance Creation as Problem Solving, discussion with members of the production team for the Fall Major Production           

Nov 23- Nov 27       Tutorial: Avatar Presentations

Nov 30  Performance Creation as Problem Solving, discussion with members of the production team for the Fall Major Production

Nov 30-Dec 3         Tutorial: Discussion of Major Production

Dec 3+7            Review and Exam

Other Course Information:


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 14, 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. 21-25th.

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. 21-25th 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.