Studies In Radical Aesthetics: The Ideas and Practice of Political Theater

New School for Social Research: Liberal Studies

Liberal Arts

Graduate Course

Degree Students (with Restrictions)

Studies In Radical Aesthetics

Spring 2023

Taught By: Inessa Medzhibovskaya

Section: A

CRN: 13262

Credits: 3

This course focuses on the history and programs of the Dramatic Workshop at the New School (1939), overseen for a decade by Erwin Piscator (1893-1966), one of the most influential radical artists in the twentieth century. In addition to studying Piscator’s many influential political interventions in the arts, especially in relationship to the parallel (and far better known) career of Bertolt Brecht, the course also serves as a introduction to the era’s Marxist aesthetic debates and criticism in the first half of the twentieth century – an especially fertile period in Western Marxist thought. This course also focuses on the aesthetic ideas and practice of political theatre in the twentieth century more broadly, tracing the development of modern political theatre from its origins in the didactic humanism of the Enlightenment to the formation of proletarian and popular theatres in Germany, Eastern Europe, Soviet era Russia, and America. Special attention is given to Marxist, avant-garde, and liberal-democratic theories of the stage in their responses to, and artistic resolutions of, historical catastrophes and political and ideological differences during the two World Wars, the Cold War, and the era of McCarthyism. By way of example, Piscator staged Lessing’s drama “Nathan the Wise” on Broadway. Despite their emphasis on proletarian art, Piscator and Brecht were versatile masters, and it is important to appreciate their range byl reading the original plays. In addition to surveying the work of Piscator and Brecht, and to reading their creative work and criticism, we also read plays by Lessing, Schiller, Büchner, Hauptmann, Shaw, Gorky, Witkacy, and Weiss, among others.

College: New School for Social Research (GF)

Department: Liberal Studies (GLIB)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 10

Add/Drop Deadline: N/A
Online Withdrawal Deadline: N/A

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Open*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 8:32am 8/14/2022 EDT

Meeting Info:

Days: Wednesday

Times: 1:55pm - 3:45pm

Building: TBD

Room: TBD

Date Range: 1/25/2023 - 5/10/2023