Theatre and Pop Culture - Online drama courses | Arts and Science ONLINE

Theatre & Pop Culture

DRAM 205/3.0

Explores collisions between theatre and pop culture in media including film, theatre, pop music, television, and social media. Concepts including but not limited to theatricality, liveness, affect, and performativity will provide students with critical analysis skills applicable to pop culture.

Please note: This course is typically offered in the fall term - every other year

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:  

  • Define key concepts from theatre studies applicable to analyzing performance in pop culture & media, including theatricality, affect, performativity and representation. 

  • Reflect upon your personal experience as a spectator/consumer of popular culture & media using insights from theatre studies (and without extrapolating or universalizing your experience). 

  • Identify and develop productive and well-grounded connections between course concepts and examples of performance in popular culture & media. 

  • Apply course concepts to critically analyze performance in popular culture & media with an emphasis towards Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Indigeneity (EDII). 

  • Communicate connections worth sharing with others in an accessible, engaging and concise way that is well-supported by analysis. 


Humans use stories to make sense of the world, and one of the primary ways we share these stories with each other is through performance. Theatre is the original performance-based storytelling form.  In theatre, we can show people the world through design, imitate it through acting, and describe it through text.  

Contemporary pop culture & media also use a lot of performance to tell stories. We are literally surrounded by film, TV, music, 24 hour news channels, and endless scrolls of social media that provide a non-stop stream of performance. Increasingly, it is through media and pop culture (rather than via direct experience) that many of us learn about the world around us.   

The world as we each know it is reflected in the stories and media we consume, but is also constructed by it. Even if a product of pop culture is created just to entertain the masses or make a profit - and has no intention of ever exploring deeper themes, messages, or meanings – it still offers a particular vision of the world. Maybe that vision reflects the world as it actually exists, but maybe it’s an imagined version/vision of the world that constructs the world for its audience. It might be a version of life that others use when trying to make sense of their own worlds – or when trying to imagine parts of the world they have not yet seen for themselves.    

Because pop culture both reflects and constructs the world around us, what and who are/aren’t represented in these visions matters deeply, as does how they are represented. And how they are performed.    

In theatre studies, we spend a lot of time looking at how humans use stories to shape our understandings of each other. We focus on the performative and representational aspects of storytelling. We have analytical tools in theatre studies that can be very useful when applied to an analysis of pop culture. That’s what we will be doing in this course.   

Dram 205 – Theatre and Pop Culture explores the intersections between theatre and pop culture media, including film, music, journalism, and social media. Students will be provided with a toolkit of key concepts from theatre studies applicable to conducting critical analyses of current trends in pop culture and performance. In our discussions, we will encounter many examples where theatricality and pop culture collide, including drag queens, superheroes, Hollywood movies, pop music stars, cable news & reality TV, bingeable Netflix series, TikTok trends, YouTube dramas, and social media influencers.  


Fall 2022
Course Dates: 
Sept. 6 - Dec. 5, 2022
Exam Dates: 


20% - Module Completion Task (best 40 of 44)
25% - Discussion Forums (best 4 of 5)
15% - Slide Doc
5% - Peer Evaluation Feedback
35% - Final Submission (Video Essay/Presentation/Written)

**Evaluation Subject to Change**


Professor Grahame Renyk (

Instructor message

Hello, and welcome to Dram205 - Theatre and Pop Culture. My name is Grahame Renyk and I will be your instructor for this course. I am an actor, director, and educator currently on Faculty in the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen's. My research interests include musical theatre in Canada, directing, and using cognitive psych in theatre practice. 

I have taught at Queen's for the past several years, both on campus and online. I have worked with onQ for a long long time, so if you are having any problems with the technology, use the course questions forum (or email me) and I'll try to help you out. 

Time Commitment

In this course, you should expect to invest on average 8 hours per week (100 hours total). This will include the time you spend studying course material, practicing course objectives, and participating in course activities and assessments. You are encouraged to adhere to a pre-determined study schedule as you will be more likely to complete the course on time successfully. 

The course consists of regular module work comprised of small completion tasks.  Approximately every second week, there is a discussion forum assignment.  A typical module will take between 4 and 6 hours to complete. In addition to the regular weekly work, there is also a scaffolded analysis project that you will work on throughout the term.     

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.

About OnQ

onQ is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into onQ to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the onQ site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA or BSc requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a high speed internet connection as well as a microphone and speakers to be able to watch videos, hear sounds, and participate in interactive online activities. A webcam is recommended but not necessary.

System Requirements:

Computer Specifications

  • Windows 8.1 or newer
  • OSX 10.13 (High Sierra) or newer
  • Dual Core 2 GHz processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Soundcard
  • USB Headset
  • Webcam

Supported Browsers

  • Chrome (preferred - latest version)
  • Firefox (latest version)
  • Safari is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ
  • Edge is not recommended as it causes several known issues in onQ

Internet Connection

  • Wired high speed access: Cable or better
  • Wifi is not recommended


  • Latest version

Media Player

  • Flash (latest version)

Adobe Reader

  • Latest Version


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Upcoming Application Dates section.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for Summer Term 2018 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Domestic students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $685.90; for a 6.0-unit course, $1371.80 See also Tuition and Fees.

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks, if required, can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.