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Literature, Ethics and Globalization


This course studies theatre produced in Britain from the last decade of the twentieth century to the present day. Through close exploration of a selection of plays, students are invited to consider both the formal/aesthetic innovations and the cultural and political interventions that they formulate and to read them in the light of the recent events occurred in Britain, Europe and in the context of the ongoing process of neo-liberal globalisation.

As much attention as possible is devoted to the theatrical or staging component, whether through screenings of (excerpts from) filmed versions of the plays, photographs of actual productions, reviews, or visits to the theatre to see plays by the selected playwrights or by other contemporary playwrights.

Course: Literature, Ethics and Globalization
Code: 569568
Lenght: 06/02/2024 - 14/05/2024
Credits: 6
More info:

What Do We Study


1. Introduction and conceptual foundations:

a)     The “ethical turn” in literary and theatrical studies.

b)     Globalisation, precariousness, theatricality, and the function of the spectator.


2. Case studies:

  1. Mark Ravenhill, Mother Clap’s Molly House (2000)
  2. Mojisola Adebayo, Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey  (2006)
  3. Cordelia Lynn, Lela & Co. (2016)
  4. Caryl Churchill, Escaped Alone (2016)
  5. Travis Alabanza, Burgerz (2018)
  6. debbie tucker green, ear for eye  (2018)
  7. Scottee, Class (2019)
  8. Charlie Josephine, I, Joan  (2022)

Which is the Line of Thought

We will examine the selected works in the light of a range of theoretical/critical perspectives including the ethical turn and the ethics of care, globalization studies, precariousness, affect theory, queer studies, critical antiracist studies, and the role of the spectator. The overall objective is to determine and describe to what extent and in what way these works invite us, as a receiving public, to transform our perception and experience of the world around us. For more details, you can consult the Basic Bibliography that you will find below.


Theoretical and Practical Approaches

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh UP, 2004.

Aragay, Mireia, et al., eds. British Theatre of the 1990s: Interviews with Directors, Playwrights, Critics and Academics. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Aragay, Mireia & Enric Monforte, eds. Ethical Speculations in Contemporary British Theatre. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Augé, Marc. Non-Places: Introduction to Supermodernity. 1992. Verso, 1995.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Modernity and the Holocaust. Polity, 1989.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Postmodern Ethics. Blackwell, 1993.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Globalization: The Human Consequences. Blackwell, 1998.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Life. Blackwell, 2005.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Fear. Blackwell, 2006.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 44 Letters from the Liquid Modern World. Polity, 2010. 

Blattès, Susan. “Is the Concept of ‘Character’ Still Relevant in Contemporary Drama?”. Drama and/after Postmodernism. Ed. by Christoph Henke & Martin Middeke.  Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2007, p. 69-81.

Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. Verso, 2004, p. 128-51. 

Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? Verso, 2009.

Butler, Judith. “Precarious Life, Vulnerability and the Ethics of Cohabitation”. Journal of Speculative Philosophy. vol. 26, no. 2, 2012, p. 134-151.

Derrida, Jacques. Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas. Stanford UP, 1999.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Hospitality. Trad. per Rachel Bowlby. Stanford UP, 2000.

Derrida, Jacques. On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. Routledge, 2001. 

Dolan, Jill. Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theater. U of Michigan P, 2005.

Eaglestone, Robert. Ethical Criticism: Reading after Levinas. Edinburgh University Press, 1997.

Felman, Shoshana i Dori Laub. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. Routledge, 1992.

Grehan, Helena. Performance, Ethics and Spectatorship in a Global Age. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Blackwell, 1989, p. 284-307.

Harvey, David. Spaces of Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development. Verso, 2006, p. 119-48.

Lehmann, Hans-Thies. Postdramatic Theatre. 1999. Trans. by Karen Jürs-Munby, Routledge, 2006.

Levinas, Emmanuel. “Ethics as First Philosophy”. The Levinas Reader. Ed. by Seán Hand. Blackwell, 1989, p. 75-87.

Levinas, Emmanuel. “Reality and its Shadow” .The Levinas Reader. Ed. by Seán Hand. Blackwell, 1989, p. 130-43.

Levinas, E. and R. Kearney. “Dialogue with Emmanuel Levinas”. Face to Face with Levinas. Ed. de R. A. Cohen. State University of New York Press, 1986, p. 13-33.

Pedwell, Catherine. Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy. Plagrave Macmillan, 2014.

Rancière, Jacques. The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible. Continuum, 2004. 

Rancière, Jacques. The Emancipated Spectator. Verso, 2009. 

Rebellato, Dan. “From the State of the Nation to Globalization: Shifting Political Agendas in Contemporary British Playwriting”. A Concise Companion to Contemporary British and Irish Drama. Ed. de Nadine Holdsworth & Mary Luckhurst. Blackwell, 2007, p. 245-62.

Rebellato, Dan. Theatre & Globalization. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Richardson, Brian. “Plot after Postmodernism”. Drama and/after Postmodernism. Ed. by Christoph Henke & Martin Middeke. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2007, p. 55-66.

Ridout, Nicholas. Theatre & Ethics. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Smith, David. Moral Geographies: Ethics in a World of Difference. Edinburgh University Press, 2000.

Tomlin, Liz. Political Dramaturgies and Theatre Spectatorship: Provocations for Change. Bloomsbury, 2019.


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