This course will explore Brecht’s development of epic theater dramaturgy, at the intersection of his synthetic genius and collective inspirations. Students will learn about Brecht’s development of such techniques as Verfremdungseffekt (distancing effect), historification, gestus, and separation of the elements, while exploring his radical adaptations of classical texts. As Brecht, who adapted his early theories from Erwin Piscator, once commented: “Anyone can be creative. It’s rewriting other people that’s a challenge.” The course will also explore Brecht’s practices of collective writing and dramaturgy: in his epic music theater with Kurt Weill, and in his collaborations with multiple women artists, including Elisabeth Hauptmann, Margarete Steffin, and Ruth Berlau, whose sizable contributions to Brecht’s plays were eclipsed by Brecht’s macho-Marxist mythos. Additionally, the course will encompass Brecht’s early Weimar Republic-era works (e.g. Baal); his WWII-era plays and parables (e.g. Mother Courage and Her Children); and his plays set in a mythic “Chicago” of robber barons, racketeers, and fascists (e.g. Saint Joan of the Stockyards; The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui).