George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

HNRS 122: Reading the Arts

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American playwright Thornton Wilder said, “I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be human.” Through study of contemporary American plays and musicals, students will explore theatre as a mirror of the culture.  Dialogue and the importance of valuing and evaluating multiple perspectives and points-of-view are core to theatre. The central concerns of the class are listening to the myriad voices currently working in American theatre, seeking to understand why live stories urgently matter, looking at theatre’s relationship to other art forms, placing theatre in its political and cultural context, forming questions about how contemporary dramatists wrestle with and ask questions about the great American Experiment, and building a portrait of our contemporary world. Students will both read and see plays and musicals. We will begin by learning the language, story structure, character building, and visual storytelling particular to the art form. Readings in CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN DRAMA will be drawn from award-winning plays and musicals with an eye toward including some that will have local productions we are able to attend and discuss.

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Explores the language of the art medium and the relationship of parts to whole in art works, connections among different art forms, and links between art and its historical context. In exploring multiple art forms, including literature, students will also learn how various artistic devices contribute to meaning. Students will critically explore detail and nuance in the social, historical and personal context of the work(s). Students will also participate in or attend a visual or performance based art work(s) or event(s).

Credits: 3

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