This course offers an introduction to the history and development of world theater and drama. We will experience the dynamic pageant of theater history through an exploration of its conventions and aesthetics, as well as its social and cultural functions. In the fall of 2016, we will study theater history from antiquity through the nineteenth century, reading representative plays ranging from Greek Tragedy through American Melodrama, as well as key critical and theoretical texts illuminating the plays. The course encompasses not only the study of plays as dramatic texts, but also their contexts of theater architecture and stagecraft, performance conventions, debates of art and commerce, and shifting relationships to the audience. Through an interdisciplinary study of theater history, students will also learn to connect theatrical tradition to its contemporary practice.