Level of study Second Year
Credit value 20
Semester Scheduled 2013-14, 1 and 2
This module focuses on the three main periods of comic drama in Greco-Roman antiquity: the plays of Aristophanes and his rivals, created in the radical democracy of late 5th century Athens; the "New" Comedy of Menander and his contemporaries, performed as Athens became a cultural crossroads of the emerging Hellenistic world; and the works of Plautus and Terence - Latin comedies fusing Greek and Italian elements to please patrons and populace in the Roman Republic. Selected plays are studied in detail and wider themes are explored: how comedy creates models of what it means to be human; how it draws on other literary forms and reflects on social, political and intellectual trends; how different kinds of comedy employ different performance spaces and different conceptions of the human body; most fundamentally, what makes people laugh, and what we learn about a society from the kind of jokes it likes best. There is an element of practical work which provides material for assessed written work, but is not itself assessed.