Classical Studies
CLA 1-364-2009

Masterpieces of Greek and Roman Theater

Comedy: Greece and Rome to Hollywood

Overview of the Course

Scene from Aristophanes' Birds, Malibu 82.AE.83
Scene from Aristophanes' Birds? J. Paul Getty Museum
Week 1 Aristophanes and Old Comedy
  Background Reading:
Ian Storey, "General Introduction," in Aristophanes I, Trans. Peter Meineck;
J. Boardman, et al., Oxford History of the Classical World, 124-145 (on reserve)
Sallie Goetsch, Introduction to Greek Stagecraft (Didaskalia) features an interactive mask model and a 3D reconstruction of the Theater of Dionysos
Day 1 Introduction to Greek History in the 5th century BCE
Introduction to the Athenian Theater
Day 2 Utopian Fantasy: Aristophanes' Acharnians (425 BCE)
PM: Doing research on ancient and modern comedy (Jen Rouse); Building webpages (Brooke Bergantzel) Cole Library and Humanities Lab
Day 3 Flights of fancy: Aristophanes' Peace (422 BCE)
PM: Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush (1925) (95 minutes)
Day 4 Aristophanes, Charlie Chaplin, and the Comic Hero

Comedy terms (definition and example) due at 9:00 a.m.
PM: paper conferences; please bring a hard copy of your paper to the conference


Day 5 Women in Charge: Aristophanes' Lysistrata (411 BCE)

First paper due at 5 p.m. Please upload your paper in Moodle.

Week 2 Menander and Greek New Comedy
  Background Reading:
J.J. Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age, 1-16 (on reserve).
Sander Goldberg, The Making of Menander's Comedy 1-28 (on reserve)
Day 6 AM: Mae West in Goin' to Town (1935)
PM: Gender Bending: Lysistrata and Mae West



Day 7 AM: The Setting of New Comedy: Menander's Dyskolos (Old Cantankerous) (316 BCE)
PM: Dyskolos cont.

Comedy Terms Jeopardy


Day 8 The Characters of New Comedy: Menander's Epitrepontes (The Arbitration) (before 292 BCE)
PM: Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable

film and partner chosen for Aspects of Comedy Project (please include a one paragraph summary of the film chosen)


Day 9 Menander's Samia (c. 315-309 BCE)
A New Vision of Love: Hellenistic New Comedy and Hollywood Screwball Comedy

PM: paper conferences


Day 10 Theorizing Comedy: Aristotle's Poetics, Chapters 1-18 (died 322 BCE);
Study Guide for Aristotle's Poetics

Paper 2 due at 5 p.m.


Week 3 New Comedy in Rome: Plautus and Terence
  Background Reading:
J. Boardman, et al., Oxford History of the Classical World, 417-437 (on reserve)
Deena Berg and Douglass Parker, "General Introduction," in Plautus and Terence, Five Comedies
John Porter, Roman New Comedy (University of Saskatchewan)
Day 11 Loving the Exotic: Plautus' Rudens (190's BCE?)
PM: Victor Heerman's Animal Crackers (1930), starring Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo Marx, Lillian Roth, Margaret Dumont, Louis Sorin (97 minutes)
Day 12 Puns, jokes, and anarchistic comedy: Plautus and the Marx Brothers
Comic Patterns in Rudens and Animal Crackers
PM: Workshop: Creating the Aspects of Comedy webpages (Brooke Bergantzel) Humanities Lab
Day 13 Heroic Badness and the Clever Con: Plautus' Truculentus (ca. 190 BCE)
PM: Howard Hawk's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), starring Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, and James Coburn (91 minutes)

Aspects of Comedy, Part 1, due at 8:00 p.m. Part 1 introduces your film and explores three aspects of comedy.


Day 14 Golddiggers in Truculentus and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

PM: paper conferences; please bring a copy of your paper to the conference

Day 15 A Tale of Two Brothers: Terence's Adelphoe (160 BCE)

Paper 3 due at 5 p.m.
Saturday: Critique of another group's website, due at noon

Week 4 New Comedy in Rome and Hollywood
Day 16 Is rape a laughing matter? Terence's Eunuch (161 BCE)
PM: Comedy, Melodrama, and Gender: Norman Jewison's Moonstruck (1987), starring Cher, Nicholas Cage, and Olympia Dukakis (102 minutes)

Aspects of Comedy, Part 2, due at 9:00 p.m. Part 2 concludes your project and explores the other aspects of comedy.

Day 17 Rewriting gender and comic roles in Romantic comedy: Terence and Moonstruck
PM: presentation of websites and wrap-up discussion

Critique of another group's website, due at 5:00 p.m.

Day 18 Aspects of Comedy project due at noon

Scene from Menander's Epitrepontes
Scene from Menander's Epitrepontes (The Arbitration). Mosaic from Mytilene, late 3rd century CE.

Maintained by: Last Update: June 1, 2016 5:44 pm

Professor John Gruber-Miller
CLA 1-364-2006
Masterpieces of Greek and Roman Theater

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