Faculty of Arts


Drama and the Mind

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for DRAMA 708.


This course examines modern British and Irish dramatic texts using theoretical frames that explore the human mind and body such as psychoanalysis and neuroscience. Topics include ideas of loss, memory, trauma, sexuality, power, identity, hatred, violence, guilt and emotion. This course also seeks to study why theatre presents an exemplary location to explore the relationship between the mind and the body.

The first six weeks focus on applying Freudian and Kleinian theories of subject formation to dramatic texts, with particular focus on Oedipal theory, on theories of the Super-ego and on Klein’s theory of artistic creation. The final six weeks investigate the appropriation of myth, the rewriting of history, the re-inventing of national identity and the recreation of memory and of traumatic events. Sexual politics and gender identity will be addressed using theoretical work of Judith Butler and Julia Kristeva. The final week studies a recent theory of acting and a play that use the insights of cognitive neuroscience. Alongside seminar discussions, practical seminars will examine character psychology in relation to physical environment and movement.

Aims and Objectives:

By the end of the module you will be expected to have:

  • Become familiar with the work of a number of dramatists writing for British and Irish theatre since the 1890s
  • Knowledge of psychoanalytic theories by Freud, Klein, Kristeva and Butler
  • Learnt to apply psychoanalytic theories to dramatic texts
  • Investigated ways in which British and Irish dramatic writing has responded to changing notions of national identity and to shifting perspectives on race and gender
  • Explored a number of dramatic theories, with particular attention to conditions of performance
  • Potentially identified a topic for further research and critical investigation

NB. Participation and presentations will be reflected to your final mark.

Creative project: Your first assessed piece may be a “creative project”' that is equivalent to 3,000-4,000 words essay. This can for example be an original literary response to one of the plays on the course, a production plan, or a visual (e.g., video) project. It must be accompanied by a prose piece of c.1500 words outlining the aims of the project and reflecting on its development. Students wishing to submit a creative project should discuss it with their tutor as early as possible and must agree a title with the Convenor by Monday of week five of the semester.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Rina Kim


NB. Course Reader includes all the theories taught in the course. You can purchase Course Reader in the UBS.

Primary Texts:

Sophocles, Oedipus the King

JM Synge, The Playboy of the Western World ^

Joe Orton, Entertaining Mr Sloane (V)

Terry Johnson, Hysteria*

Caryl Churchill, Blue Heart and A Number in Plays: 4 (London: Nick Hern Books, 2008)

Samuel Beckett, Eh Joe & Film (V), Not I (V) in Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett (London: Faber and Faber, 1994)

Happy Days, Footfalls and Rockaby (V) in Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett (London: Faber and Faber, 1994)

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Ernest (V)

Tom Stoppard, Travesties

WB Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan ^ and Purgatory ^

Marina Carr, Portia Coughlan and By the Bog of Cats ^

Sarah Kane, Blasted* and Cleansed in Complete Plays (London: Methuen, 2001)

Gurpreet Bhatti, Bezhti

Mark Ravenhill, Shopping and F***ing *

Lucy Prebble, The Effect (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, 2012)


in Modern and Contemporary Irish Drama, 2nd edition, ed. by John P. Harrington (WW Norton & Company, 2008)

* in Modern Drama: Plays of the 80s and 90s (Methuen Drama, 2001)

NB Some plays will be studied from videotape (V) and there will be at least one organised theatre visit.


DRAMA 708: 30.0 points

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