Review Comment

Theatre History I

May 05, 2011

Worthen, William Gold_nugget
Theatre History I and [ENTH BC3147] Shakespeare, Theory, Performance

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor WB Worthen is a really terrific teacher who inspires you to engage with all the aspects of theatre, and analyze how performances work to make artistic meaning.

His classes are mainly lecture based, with him doing most of the speaking and the entire class feverishly attempting to write down his exact words. The lectures always have a very strong focus on a single element of a play or production that then can be used to discuss other plays or other concerns, which helps you first get a grasp on some of the complicated epistemological/artistic concerns he is interested in (illocution, embodiment, authenticity, and many more), and then you are expected to apply them on your own to other work.

Some people complained about how fast he spoke in Theatre History, but I found the pace to be more about the train of thought than every point that got him there. If you don't understand things, Prof. Worthen is super accessible (especially for the head of a department) through e-mail or at his office hours. Though he is a lecturer, he always asks questions and genuinely responds to questions and comments. He appreciates class participation.

Something that I especially appreciate about WB's classes is that he is always bringing in topics of conversation from NYC performances, always wants to hear what people "saw over the weekend," and generally encourages people to go see and critique shows out in the city. The fact that he is teaching heavily historical and critical classes, but remains a passionate consumer of contemporary theatre makes the material he teaches all the more relevant and important.

Anyone who is interested in performance, literature, or art criticism should definitely leap at the chance to take a class taught by Professor Worthen.

Workload:

2 papers, 1 final for the courses I took. The first paper is generally shorter and pointed (ie has a very specific topic that everyone has to address), while for the second, longer paper you choose your own topic, which he has to approve. He grades fairly, but expects high quality thought in your paper. Definitely favors content over structure/pretty writing.

Reading load is moderate but manageable. Maximum is a long play and 2-3 critical/background readings per week.

February 12, 2010

Worthen, William Gold_nugget
Theatre History I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Worthen is first and foremost passionate about theatre and he has the gift of teaching in that he can spark that passion in his students. And that is the difference between a good and a great professor. I found myself fascinated by the plays, the artists, even the theory part behind performance studies. Many things he taught have changed my perception of live performance and theatre to the better. He is also brilliant, witty, funny, and always prepared to the nines. Watch him when the computer doesn't live up to his level of perfection and you will get a performance by the master himself. It also needs be mentioned that Professor Worthen absolutely ALWAYS LISTENS to everyone's comments, and he truly 'hears' the students. Being at Barnard, he has shown a respect for the woman's perspective that some professors at Columbia might want to live up to. He is also not afraid to stand up for people, popular or not, if he believes they have earned it. All in all, if you are passionate about theatre, acting, performance studies, or literature in general, you will walk away from his class convinced that you chose the right major!!!
PS: He loathes the Romantic Poets. So go ahead and quote Keats and you'll see that he'll cringe but still give you a fair grade. He truly has negative capability, q.e.d.

Workload:

A lot. 2 essays, rather difficult topics. If you don't have a theatre background, I recommend taking another class in that field first, otherwise it might prove hard.
One final, also rather heavy, but he grades extremely fairly. And he knows if you've done the work or not.

April 14, 2006

Garrett, Shawn-Marie
Theatre History I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I was really excited to take theatre history, and I had heard good things about Shawn, but despite my constant efforts to remain optimistic and to try and learn from Shawn the class was a huge dissappointment. The syllabus is decent, but Shawn is so intellectually sloppy that there is little chance of learning anything. I think her lectures are based off of checking wikipedia before she comes to class (late). Much of the information she gives does not bear up under the most basic fact checking, and she's supposed to be a dramaturge! The assignments are banal, she seems to have a really clear idea of what she wants on papers, but does not communicate what that may be until you get your paper back. She can be lax about due dates, and allow re-writes if you ask for them and hence a decent grade is entirely possible, even if gleaning useful knowledge from your time in her class is not.

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