Spring 2023

Theater at the End of the World

Listed in: English, as ENGL-109


Christopher A. Grobe (Section 01)


The world is ending, the planet is dying, civilization is falling to ruin – now what? For millennia, theatermakers have asked and answered this question through their art. Why does theater keep staging such scenes of devastation and renewal? In this course, you will read a selection of such apocalyptic plays, as well as works in other genres that ask us to imagine that, when all else has withered away, the theater will somehow survive. Course materials will range from medieval morality plays and Shakespearean tragedies to recent novels, avant-garde theater, and Broadway musicals. With the help of texts by and about BIPOC performers, we will also ask: For whom, exactly, is the world supposed to be ending? For whom did it end at least once already – whether years or centuries ago? And what does theater offer to communities who have already survived the apocalypse, or who currently live in apocalyptic times?

As an introduction to college-level studies in English, this course teaches the fundamental skills of close reading, attentive viewing, deep discussion, powerful writing, and effective revision.

Readings may include:

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Everybody
Everyman (anonymous 15th-century morality play)
Adrienne Kennedy, Motherhood 2000
The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment (medieval cycle plays)
Caryl Churchill, Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen
José Rivera, Marisol
Larissa FastHorse, What Would Crazy Horse Do?
Tim Crouch, Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation
Annie Baker, The Antipodes
Jordan Harrison, The Amateurs
Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
William Shakespeare, King Lear
DeLanna Studi, And So We Walked
Sarah Ruhl, Eurydice
Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown

Limit of 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Grobe.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will go to first-years, sophomores, and students taking their first course in English

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close reading; visual analysis; oral presentations; and short, frequent writing assignments.

ENGL 109 - LEC

Section 01
M 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM CONV 310
W 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM CONV 310


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023