On the Stage and in the Streets: An Introduction to Performance Studies
What do Hamilton, RuPaul’s Drag Race, political protest, TikTok Ratatouille, and Queen Elizabeth’s funeral have in common? They all compose repertoires of performance. From artistic performances in theatres, galleries, and concert halls to an individual’s comportment in everyday life, to sporting events, celebrations, courtroom proceedings, performance studies explores what happens when embodied activities are repeatable and given to be seen. In this course we ask: what is performance? How do we describe, analyze, and interpret it? What do theatre and everyday life have in common? How does performance legitimize or challenge the exercise of power? How has social media shifted our understanding of the relationship of our daily lives to performance? How does culture shape what is considered to be performance and how it functions? What isn’t performance?
Throughout the semester students will apply key readings in performance theory to case studies drawn from global repertoires of contemporary and historical performance. In addition to analyzing artistic performances, we will also consider sporting events, celebrations, political events, and the performance of everyday life. We will attend to the challenges provoked by performance’s embodied, ephemeral, affective, effective, relational, and contingent aspects. Coursework will include discussion posts, class facilitations, and the opportunity to choose between a research paper or creative project for the final assessment.