English (ENGL) 304

A History of Drama Part II: Modernist Theatre (Revision 3)

ENGL 304 Course website

Revision 3 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study or grouped study (check availability)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent first year English course(s).

Precluded Course: ENGL 300. (ENGL 304 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for ENGL 300.)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

English Studies Home Page

ENGL 304 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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English 304: A History of Drama Part II: Modernist Theatre is a senior-level university course which examines the beginnings of Western modernism in plays of the nineteenth and twentieth century from Europe, Britain, the United States, and Canada. It considers the “realistic” interrogation of social dynamics in the plays of Henrik Ibsen, Bernard Shaw, and Anton Chekhov; the satirical dimensions of epic theatre in a play by Bertolt Brecht; the expressionistic style of Eugene O’Neill; and the metatheatre of Luigi Pirandello. It examines the characteristics of the “Theatre of the Absurd” in plays by Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter; and of postcolonial theatre in plays by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Brian Friel, Jack Davis, Tomson Highway and Athol Fugard. It concludes with a consideration of the postmodern stylistic and thematic aspects of M. Butterfly by David Henry Wang. English 304 provides an analysis of individual plays as theatre and as text, and includes brief background notes on the authors and on the significance of the plays in the context of Western theatre.


  • Act I—Social Realism: Dialogic and Dialectic
  • Act II—Expressionist, Epic, and Absurdist Theatre: Personal and Public Voice
  • Act III—Postcolonialism and Postmodernism: Reconfiguring the Stage


To receive credit for ENGL 304, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. A supplemental examination is available. All assignments are required in order to pass the course. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Scene Analysis Critical Review Essay Proposal Essay Examination Final
10% 20% 5% 25% 40% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama 6th ed. Ed. W. B. Worthen. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth, 2011.

Timberlake Wertenbaker. Our Country's Good. Woodstock, IL: The Dramatic Publishing Company, 1989.

Studying Plays, 3rd ed. Mick Wallis and Simon Shepherd. London: Arnold, 2010.

Other Materials

The course materials also include a study guide and student manual.

Special Course Features

Several of the plays in ENGL 304 are available for streaming viewing via the AU Landing, or via the Athabasca University Library's Theatre in Video database.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the Engl 304 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least 50 per cent on the examination, and a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) overall.

Essay Exam Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Current Grouped Study Locations

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 3, May 28, 2014.

View previous syllabus