English (ENGL) 431

Indigenous and Canadian Drama (Revision 3)

ENGL 431 Course Cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent first year English course(s). A knowledge of the history of drama is advised.

Precluded Course: ENGL 331 (ENGL 431 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for ENGL 331.)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

English Studies Home Page

ENGL 431 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Note: that this course does not fulfil the requirement for 3 credits of Indigenous literature in the English major or concentration.

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English 431: Indigenous and Canadian Drama is a senior-level, three-credit course that surveys plays by Indigenous and Canadian playwrights from the 1960s to the present. ENGL 431 examines a diversity of theatrical styles and themes, in works from across the territory occupied by the Canadian nation-state. The plays are grouped in three “Acts” according to commonalities in the social, political, and philosophical issues they address, rather than according to chronology, although students are encouraged to consider the historiographic context of each play.

ENGL 431 focuses primarily on the analysis of individual plays—on their own and in comparison with each other—as theatre and literature, but also as knowledge production and political action. Special attention will be paid to the cultural differences between Indigenous and settler understandings of performance, the use of theatrical innovation or derivation, elements of dramatic form, shared themes, sociological or psychological orientation, the uses of literary language, and stagecraft.

Learning Outcomes

After completing ENGL 431, you should be able to

  • Trace the history of dramatic rituals in Indigenous cultures, the development of Canadian drama, and the formation of a “national” drama.
  • Analyze recurrent or distinctive themes in Canadian drama since 1967, and ascertain to what extent these express regional, cultural, or national concerns.
  • Describe the concerns of Indigenous and Canadian drama since 1967.
  • Compare the stylistic strategies used by Indigenous and Canadian dramatists (realist, expressionist, absurdist, filmic, etc.).
  • Identify the styles and themes unique to individual playwrights, and compare and contrast these with the styles and themes of others.
  • Describe the multiplicity of perspectives—including Québécois, feminist, LGBTQ2S, settler, colonized, immigrant, diasporic—that are operative in contemporary Indigenous and Canadian drama and theatre.
  • Analyze the function of character, plot, and set in sixteen Canadian plays.
  • Critically evaluate published articles and reviews of Indigenous and Canadian drama in order to arrive at your own understanding of the above issues.


ENGL 431 consists of a Prologue, three Acts, and two optional Appendices. Each of the Acts assigns five or six plays to be read, together with accompanying Study Guide commentary and recommended sources.

Act I: Developing Indigenous and Canadian Drama
Act II: Staging Atrocity, Absurdity, and Adaptation
Act III: Cultural Collisions and Intercultural Encounters
Appendix I
Appendix II


To receive credit for ENGL 431, you must achieve a composite course grade of at least 50 percent, a grade of at least D (50 percent) on each assignment, and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final exam.

Some post-secondary institutions require an average higher than 50 percent for the purposes of transfer credit. If you intend to transfer this course to another institution, check with the office of the registrar at the institution to which you are applying.

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1: Scene Analysis (1,000 words) 10%
Assignment 2: Review Critique (1,500 words) 20%
Assignment 3: Essay or Script
Part A: Essay Proposal or Script Rationale (250–750 words) 10%
Part B: Essay or Script (2,000+ words) 25%
Final Exam 35%
Total 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


Arnold, Daniel and Medina Hahn. Tuesdays & Sundays. Dramatic Publishing, 2007.

Campbell, Maria and Linda Griffiths. The Book of Jessica: A Theatrical Transformation. Coach House, 1997.

Conolly, L. W., editor. Canadian Drama and the Critics. 2nd rev. ed., Talonbooks, 1995.

Loring, Kevin. Where the Blood Mixes. Talonbooks, 2009.

Taylor, Drew Hayden. In a World Created by a Drunken God. Talonbooks, 2006.

Wasserman, Jerry, editor. Modern Canadian Plays. 5th ed., vol. 1, Talonbooks, 2013.

Wasserman, Jerry, editor. Modern Canadian Plays. 5th ed., vol. 2, Talonbooks, 2013.

Online Resources

All other learning resources will be available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you 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 about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ENGL 431 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on a research essay, at least a D (50 percent) on the examination, and at least a D (50 percent) overall.

Activity Weighting
Research Essay 50%
Exam 50%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

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, January 19, 2021.

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