The International Brecht Society and Modern Language Association
MLA Convention 3–6 January, 2019, Chicago
Call for Papers: Teaching and Learning with Brecht
In fall 2016, NYC hosted no fewer than three productions of Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui as well as a celebrated version of Mother Courage set in Africa. London held an acclaimed revival of The Threepenny Opera and Atlanta a sold-out production of Brecht and Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins. On campuses, Arturo Ui has continued its resurgence with productions at University of Michigan and Indiana University among other places. The student productions in particular indicate that we are far from having exhausted the possibilities for including Brechtian theater theory and practice in an educational context. How can Brecht’s ideas be utilized in a range of settings to address topics such as politics, aesthetics, religion, collectivity, individual resistance, and revolution? How can teachers use Brecht’s plays to encourage students to critically think about and evaluate the consequences of individual as well as collective action? What can we as teachers and scholars learn from engaging in these issues today inside and outside our classrooms?
In the 1930s Brecht developed his concept of the Lehrstück (didactic drama) in an attempt to use theater as a space for critical inquiry and ethical decision-making that ultimately should lead to active participation in the sociopolitical realm off-stage. Are these ideas still relevant in education today? Were they feasible and meaningful then? How can Brecht’s concepts enhance a variety of classroom settings ranging from theater to literature and culture and also German as a foreign language classes? What can Brecht still teach us today and what can our students learn from intellectually and performatively engaging with ethical dilemmas and questions of collectivity and individuality as posed by plays such as The Measures Taken, The Threepenny Opera, or The Caucasian Chalk Circle?
Topics might relate Brecht’s work to:
- collectivity and individuality
- drama pedagogy
- language learning through theater
- Lehrstücktheorie/didactic drama
- (student) productions of Brecht plays