CLS 173 CDA The Comic Spirit

Dr. Ann R. Raia Spring, 2000
E-mail: Web Home page
Office: Castle 325 Phone: ext.5398
Office Hours: M 3:30-4:30, Tu 2-3, Th 2:30-3:30, and by appointment Fax: (914)-654-5259

{comic actor}



This course offers multiple experiences of comedy toward an exploration of the nature, form, and function of comedy. Reading and analysis of selected comic plays by Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, and Terence will illustrate themes, techniques, and conventions of comedy which may be still found in modern comedy. In search of a definition of comedy, comic criticism from Aristotle to Freud will be measured against reading, performance, and experience.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes:

Methods of Instruction:{young maiden}

Materials of Instruction:

  1. Aristophanes. Four Plays: Clouds, Birds, Lysistrata, Frogs, translated by William Arrowsmith (New American Library)
  2. Menander. Plays and Fragments, translated by Norma Miller (Penguin)
  3. Plautus. Four Comedies: Braggart Soldier, Menaechmi, Haunted House, Pot of Gold, translated by Erich Segal (Oxford)
  4. Terence. The Comedies, translated by Betty Radice (Penguin)

Requirements: Students are expected to--

Grading:{young lover}

Your grade will be based on the quality of your completed work as follows:
Class participation and assignments 30%
Quizzes (3) 30%
Group research and performance 30%
Comedy Portfolio 10%
Those who do not complete all requirements will receive an F grade for the course

Schedule of Semester Topics
The class meets in Chidwick 203 on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:15
More detailed assignments will be posted daily on the blackboard

January 25: Distribution and Review of the Syllabus

January 27- February 8: Orientation to the Topic, the Questions, the Course Methods:
Reflecting on and sampling the wide range of comedy in contemporary culture and your own experience of comedy, we will attempt to answer such questions as:
Why do we laugh? What do we laugh at? Does laughter define comedy? Have you got a sense of humor? Are you a creator or consumer of comedy? Is comedy universal and timeless or culture-gender-experience-specific? Where did comedy originate? What does comedy tell us about the culture from which it arises? What is comedy’s function? What is its relation to tragedy? Does comedy happen or is it constructed? Who are the people of comedy? What is the dress of comedy? What are the actions of comedy? Does comedy have its own language and methods? Where and when does comedy take place?

February 1 and 8: Computer Classroom (CC 314), Workshops # 1 and # 2
Handouts of essays and visuals; clips from videos of modern comedies

February 10-March 2: Domestic Comedy: The Family and Romance

February 15: Computer Classroom (CC 314), Workshop # 3

March 2: Quiz 1

Handouts of essays and guides, slide-lecture, trip to a live performance of “A Bomb-itty of Errors

March 7-23: Comic Heroes

March 7: Computer Classroom (CC 314) Workshop

March 23: Quiz 2

Handouts of essays and guides, slide-lecture, video: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

March 28- April 27: Comic Satire and Parody

March 28, April 11, April 25: Computer Classroom Workshops (CC 314)

March 28 Evening: Mardi Gras

April 27: Quiz 3

Handouts of essays, slide-lecture, reading guides, video excerpts: “Miles Gloriosus”

May 2-11: Group Performances Closing Conversations

Group presentations and performances of ancient comedies

Comedy Portfolios due on the first day of exams