SCANDINAVIAN 115 Section 2: Studies in Drama and Film: Performing Violence: Aspects of Scandinavian European Drama

TT 12:30-2 , . Instructor: Ulf Olsson

Units: 4

Instructor’s email:

Cross-listed with Comparative Literature 170, Section 1.

L&S Breadth: Arts & Literature

Violence, understood as verbal, psychological and physical acts, has always been a central part of theatre, and forms a strong current in European theatre in the last hundred years. Reaching from verbal insults to systematic terror and torture, theatrical violence can also be directed towards the audience. The course will discuss different aspects of violence, how it can be understood and what its effects as well as its dramaturgical potential can be. An important dimension will be the ethical problems that violence confronts us with. Against a backdrop of European drama from the 20th century, we will look at different aspects of violence in Scandinavian drama, from Ibsen and Strindberg to contemporary playwrights Norén and Fosse.


Course Requirements:

Attendance and Participation  10%

short written assignments        15%

class presentations                    25%

Midterm                                      20%

Final                                             30%




Jon Fosse, The Dead Dogs, tr. M-B Akerholt, 2014


Henrik Ibsen, When We Dead Awaken


Peter Handke, Kaspar, in Plays: 1, 1997, p. 51-141

Elfriede Jelinek, Bambiland

Sarah Kane, Blasted, 1996, in Complete Plays 2001

Lars Norén, Act, tr. M. Lindholm Gochman, 2014

Harold Pinter, Mountain Language,London: Faber and Faber 1988 and later

Jean-Paul Sartre, Dirty Hands, in No Exit, and Three Other Plays, 1989

August Strindberg, Miss Julie, in Miss Julie and Other Plays, Oxford  World’s Classics 2009

August Strindberg, ‘The Stronger’, in Strindberg – Other Sides: Seven Plays, tr. Joe Martin, New York: Peter Lang 1997, p. 309-318


Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade, New York: Continuum 1998


Secondary Literature


Judith Butler, Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, 1997, p. 1-41


Page duBois, Torture and Truth, 1991, p. 9-34


Michel Foucault, “Discipline and Punish, Panopticism”, in Discipline and Punish, 1977 and later, p. 195-228:


Christopher Innes, “Modernism in Drama”, in The Cambridge Companion to Modernism, ed. M. Levenson, 2011, p. 128-154


Jean-Jacques Lecercle, The Violence of Language, London: Routledge1990, p. 224-264


Jeanette R. Malkin, Verbal Violence in Contemporary Drama: From Handke to Shepherd, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1992, p. 10-28 Lucy Nevitt, Theatre & Violence, New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2013


Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press 1985, p. 27-59

Peter Szondi, Theory of the Modern Drama: A Critical Edition, 1987 [1965], p. 11-32


Slavoj Zizek, Violence: Six Sideways Reflections, 2008, p. 40-73: