Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Emily Hauptmann

Second Advisor

Dr. Rudolf J. Siebert

Third Advisor

Dr. Jacinda Swanson

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Barbara Foley


Brecht, language, epic theatre


Bertolt Brecht is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in Twentieth Century literature. An acclaimed poet, he is best known as a playwright and director. His 'epic theatre' revolutionized the theatre by creating radical breaks from traditional literary and theatrical form. These radical breaks were done in an effort to facilitate radical social change. Specifically, Brecht designed his epic theatre as a revolutionary aesthetic which would help bring about the advent of a Marxist revolution. There is a broad corpus of academic work which analyzes the formalistic elements of his work. However, this body of work has been severely limited by a formalistic understanding of Brecht's thought and work and neglects his unique philosophical contributions to Marxism. This dissertation serves to remedy this by reconstructing Brecht's social and political philosophy into a single theoretical framework. In doing this, the dissertation presents Brecht's thought in context of a revolutionary Marxist aesthetic and explores his vision of historical materialism, dialectic of enlightenment, social ontology, epistemological foundations and ethics, in an effort to reveal his relevance today. This is accomplished by meticulous readings of his theoretical writings and deep analysis of three of his plays, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Life ofGalileo, and his adaption of Coriolanus.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access