Transformative Ideas: Power, Theater, and Politics


What is power? Must violence create and maintain it, or can culture alone do some of that work? We will explore how cultural formations have understood and even shaped the relationship between power and politics on public stages of all sorts, from theater to the battlefield. Reading include Aristotle, Machiavelli, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Wole Soyinka, Alfred Jarry, and Caryl Churchill, among others. Taught by Douglas Jones of Theater Studies and English.

What is power? How is it created, transferred, or lost within a polity? What happens when one entity seizes power from another? Must violence always be at the center of that event, or can shared culture animate the accumulation and maintenance of power in a society? This Transformative Ideas seminar examines how insights in political theory and theater studies have addressed these questions. Concepts include ambition; sovereignty; violence and coercion; collectivism, especially nationalism; and rhetoric. Key writers include Aristotle; Plato; Machiavelli; Sophocles; Shakespeare; Weber; Arendt; Douglass; Soyinka; Alfred Jarry; Caryl Churchill; June Jordan, and Lynn Nottage.
Curriculum Codes
  • CCI
  • ALP
Cross-Listed As
  • POLSCI 288S
Typically Offered