Senior Seminar in Contemporary Literature: "Piece of Work Is a Man": The Plays of August Wilson

Terms: 2 (fall and winter)
Grades :  12, PG
The title of character of Shakespeare's HAMLET ponders humanity: "What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension." The prince's measure of life is the measure of Shakespeare's body of work. Yet the Bard is not alone in offering to the world such an engaging, sweeping depiction of life. American playwright August Wilson has long been celebrated for his oeuvre. His ten plays are a record of the 20th century, as it was lived in homes and other gathering spaces across a single neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. No other artist has written as extensive a portrayal of American life, particularly as it was guided and experienced by black people. This course is ambitious. We will cover all ten plays of Wilson's Century Cycle: Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, Radio Golf. 

  • English course