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Analyzing Drama

A Student Casebook

James R. Russo is an independent researcher who holds graduate degrees from Louisiana State University and the University of Richmond. He has taught at those schools as well as Tulane. Russo's primary scholarly interests are the cinema and comparative literature. He has recently published The Bookman: William Troy on Literature and Criticism, 1927–1950 and Film Nation: William Troy on the Cinema, 1933–1935.

This play-analysis textbook contains 50 short essays on geographically diverse, historically significant dramas–among them Major Barbara, Our Town, Hamlet, A Streetcar Named Desire, Romeo and Juliet, Miss Julie, Electra, Death of a Salesman, The Balcony, The Cherry Orchard, Mother Courage, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Old Times. The essays are supported by a Step-by-Step Approach to Play Analysis, a Glossary of Dramatic Terms, Study Guides, Topics for Writing and Discussion, Bibliographical Resources, and a comprehensive Index.

Written for university and advanced high school students, these critical essays provide practical models to aid and promote writing and analytical skills. The author is a “close reader” committed to a detailed yet objective examination of the structure, style, imagery, and language of a play. He is concerned with dramatic analysis that can be of benefit to directors, designers, and even actors. Analysis of character, action, dialogue, and setting can thus be translated into concepts for theatrical production.

The three key benefits of Analyzing Drama are:
1. Most so-called play analysis texts are books about the methods and techniques of play analysis but contain few (if any) actual play analyses. Analyzing Drama describes the methods and techniques of play analysis while at the same time providing numerous examples of such analysis.
2. The Topics for Writing and Discussion and Study Guides provide a wide range of set tasks for students.
3. Readings are not biased by any particular social or political doctrine.

Analyzing Drama: A Student Casebook is aimed at students, teachers, educated readers, and drama aficionados with an interest in world drama in particular and drama studies in general, as well as at theatregoers with an interest in the practice of play analysis and criticism.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-111-5
Hardback Price: £60.00 / $69.95
Release Date: March 2022
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-112-2
Paperback Price: £27.95 / $34.950
Release Date: March 2022
Page Extent / Format: 256 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No



A  Step-By-Step Approach to Script Analysis

  1. Analysis of Plot and Action
  2. Analysis of Character
  3. Analysis of Language
  4. General Analysis

Model Essays

  1. Style and Genre
  2. Method and Manner
  3. Character and Role
  4. Drama and Film
  5. Comparison and Contrast
  6. Names And Titles
  7. Nature, Landscape, and Setting
  8. Form And Structure

Glossary of Dramatic Terms

Study Guides

  1. The Parts of Drama (After Aristotle)
  2. Table of Contrasts: Theater and Film
  3. Table of Contrasts: Tragedy, Comedy, and Farce
  4. Table of Contrasts: Realism and Naturalism
  5. Types of Theater or Production Criticism

Topics for Writing and Discussion

Bibliographical Resources

Online Resources

Professional Associations



I think the ideas and premises of the author, James R. Russo, in the book Analyzing Drama: A Student Casebook, are sound. He is correct that there are not many books in the field that provide actual examples of essays in play analysis, and that there is a market for such a book, since nearly every student who takes an Introduction to Drama, Theater Appreciation, or Theater History course is obliged to write play analyses. Russo’s writing in this volume indicates a clear knowledge of context, and his prose style is lucid as well as engaging. The list of plays he writes about contains some old chestnuts, but the geographical and cultural diversity of the rest of the list is impressive. Also, his delivery of “jargon-free” essays is refreshing (and, as the author points out, a significant deviation from other such texts). As indicated above, I see the market for this book as comprised primarily of undergraduates, who can use the essays as models for their own work. I do think the book could also attract a significant audience of theater enthusiasts who would appreciate alternative readings of some classic plays. The international scope of the play-list might well also attract a global, English-speaking audience. As for the book’s pedagogical apparatus, Russo promises—and delivers—a lot, and I think that the volume’s overall scope is quite impressive. Analyzing Drama thus represents the kind of book I could well use in my own classes.
Dr. John Basourakos, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan

The essay-based approach in Analyzing Drama: A Student Casebook is what gives this text the most appeal. I know that, as an instructor, I could pair such a book with a dramatic anthology and assign specific essays to align with the plays we are studying in class. The competitors’ books often reference multiple examples of dramatic texts throughout, but it is not practical (and often not necessary for understanding) to require students to read the full plays. With Russo’s text, I could quickly skim the table of contents and, using the play titles and the key analytical questions, identify a clear structure for my coursework. I’m sold on Analyzing Drama, and I trust my students will be, too.
Dr. Atilla Silkü, Ege (Aegean) University, Turkey

In my experience, theater and drama students come into college studies with three knowledge questions or gaps: How are plays structured? How can we analyze plays? And (especially at the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels) how does one write a scholarly or expository essay that focuses specifically on script analysis? Analyzing Drama: A Student Casebook especially addresses the third of these questions by giving multiple examples of script-analysis-based essays. This feature alone would make the book valuable as a required or recommended resource in upper division and graduate courses. No competing volume presents multiple examples of script-analysis-based essays like those in Analyzing Drama—something that truly sets Russo’s book apart.
Dr. Norman Bert, Texas Tech University, United States

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