Theatre and Globalization

Learn how theatre and globalization have affected each other over the past century, and how to conduct your own research on global theatre histories.

About The Course

In this course we will discuss how theatre, a European cultural practice, spread rapidly around the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The modules will engage with both theoretical and historical perspectives on what is a relatively new area of theatrical research. Globalisation is a highly controversial concept that has provoked extreme reactions. It also tends to be discussed as a phenomenon post-dating the end of the Cold War in 1989. In this course we will argue that globalization, even as we understand it today, in fact goes back at least to the mid- to late 19th century when the existence of colonial empires created the conditions for mass migration, the rapid transportation of goods and people, the invention of new technologies such as steam shipping, railways and telegraphy, which all helped to facilitate the spread of theatre. We will engage with research that has emerged in the context of global and transnational history and apply these findings to theatre. We will look at how certain plays, operas and ballets quite literally went global. We will look at theatre buildings, at the cosmopolitan audiences that emerged as well as the actors, agents and managers who facilitated the movement of theatre around the world. The final two modules will focus on the post-1945 and 1989 developments, each of which represent globalisation of different kinds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?
You will learn how to conduct your own historical research on theatre through freely available online resources! 

What resources will I need for this class?
All you need for this course is an internet connection. For some of the assignments, a digital camera, or a mobile phone with an integrated camera might be useful, but not compulsory.

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

Recommended Background

There are no prerequisites for this course. That said, an interest in common media depictions of globalization will help you understand the main arguments more quickly. Relatedly, reading and writing comfortably in English at the undergraduate college level will enable your more active engagement in course discussion forums and peer assessment exercises. A basic understanding of theatre history, especially in the 20th century, would be advantageous.