Chair, Assistant Professor BERTA JOTTAR
Advisory Committee: Professors: DARROW, D. EDWARDS, EPPEL**, HOPPIN, OCKMAN, W. A. SHEPPARD. Associate Professors: KAGAYA, L. JOHNSON, MLADENOVIC. Assistant Professors: BURTON, JOTTAR (Coordinator), SANGARE. Lecturers: BROTHERS, JAFFE***.
The Performance Studies Program provides an opportunity to inhabit an intellectual place where the making of artistic and cultural meaning intersects with critical reflection on those processes. The program has as its primary goal the bringing together of those students and faculty engaged in the creative arts, i.e., studio art, creative writing, dance, film and video, music, and theater with those departments that reflect in part on those activities, e.g., Anthropology and Sociology, Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, History, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Legal Studies, Religion and Theatre. Central concepts and interactions to Performance Studies are: action, the body, presence, ritual, representation, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, politics, history and transcultural experience.
Performance Studies strongly suggests that interested students take the introductory course (LATS 230) and two of several recommended upper-level courses (AFR 305, AFR 400, ARTH 408, ARTH 461, LATS 330, LATS 331, LATS 375, WNY 310, or WNY 311).
Currently, the Program's status is as a program without a concentration. However, students can petition and obtain a Performance Studies Contract Mayor. Students are encouraged to do five things: 1) take the introductory course, which in 2008-09 is (LATS 230) Approaching Performance Studies; 2) take two advanced courses which utilizes critical theory in relation to performance, such as (AFR 305) The Hip-Hop Generation; LATS (LATS 330) The Aesthetics of Resistance; (LATS 331) Sound and Movement in the Afro-Latin Diaspora; (LATS 375) Performance and Its Traces; (WNY 310) Art, Space and the City; (WNY 311) Imagining New York City; (AFR 400) Race, Gender, Space; (ARTH 408) Contemporary Performance Art History: Space, Time, Action; (ARTH 461) Writing About Bodies; 3) try different artistic media, both in the curriculum and beyond; 4) produce projects that are a combination of art and performance with critical thinking about that process; and 5) prepare a portfolio of their work.
As a senior year project, the Performance Studies Program strongly recommends the assembling of a senior portfolio. Preparation of the portfolio should normally begin in the second semester of the junior year. It will be done under the supervision of a member of the advisory faculty and will be submitted in the spring of the senior year. What we suggest is that portfolios should draw on at least four projects or productions. They should show critical self-reflection on the creative processes, a comparison of the artistic media employed and also demonstrate performance criticism on the work of others.
AFR 305(F) The Hip-Hop Generation: Power, Identity, and Social Change (Same as
Sociology 305 and Women's and Gender Studies 305)
This 300-level course investigates the social, cultural, and political dynamics of the hip-hop generation. Hip-hop is used to frame the analysis of U.S. and urban "social problems" since the late 1970s. First, students will be asked to consider the larger structural forces that have given rise to hip-hop including economic dislocation, discrimination, the drug economy, and mass incarceration. Second, the course will use hip-hop as a critical framework for exploring how popular/youth culture (re)produces and (re)defines cultural assumptions about race- ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and social class. Drawing on social interactionist and dramaturgical theory, we will examine how hip-hop facilitates and defines how we understand and "perform" these social identities. Third, students will be challenged to consider how popular identity and culture might facilitate or hinder social change. Combining ideas from theories of social movements, we will explore how hip-hop can be used to resist and challenge inequality, "speak truth to power," and enact social change. Scholarly and popular texts, film, hip-hop music, and original student research projects will be used to gain a comprehensive understanding of these social issues.
Format: seminar/research practicum. Requirements: Students will maintain a critical listening journal throughout the semester; Final research paper and formal presentation of findings.
No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 24. Preference given to Africana Studies concentrators and Sociology majors.
AFR 400(F) Race, Gender, Space (Capstone Seminar) (Same as Comparative Literature 369, English 365, and Women's and Gender Studies 400)
Physical or symbolic manipulation of space is one mode through which power operates, one manner in which power is exercised and experienced. Historically and currently, space has been divided and resources have been unevenly distributed along numerous axes. Thus, we are left with a constellation of dubiously constructed but nonetheless segregated spaces: public vs. private, male vs. female, white vs. black, native vs. immigrant, rich vs. poor, Christian vs. heathen (even Protestant vs. Catholic), and straight vs. queer sexuality. In this senior seminar, we will examine the ways in which power is enacted, experienced, and resisted through space. In particular, we will investigate the role of space in the creation of raced and gendered identities. Also, because the political and social manipulation of space is not the exclusive prerogative of the empowered, we will consider ways that resisting communities have sought to negotiate, redesign, or redefine space-or even transgress constrictive physical or social boundaries. Finally, we will inquire into the complex politics involved in attempts to establish alternative spaces of relative autonomy beyond the rules or the space of dominant culture. Likely texts include but are not limited to: Henri LeFebvre's The Production of Space, McKittrick and Woods' Black Geographies, Toni Morrison's Paradise, Phanswane Mpe's Welcome to Our Hillbrow, essays by Morrison, Michel de Certeau, Neil Smith, bell hooks, David Harvey, Sarah Mills, among others.
Evaluations will be based upon: attendance and class discussion, regular short writing assignments, presentations, final projects, and one seminar paper.
Enrollment limit: 14 (expected: 14). This seminar is open to all seniors, but priority will be given to Africana Studies concentrators.
ARTH 408(S) (formerly 269) Contemporary Performance Art History: Space, Time,
The artist's body was increasingly used as both the subject and object of art in the twentieth century. By focusing on visual artists engaged in performance practices, we will examine the connections between time, action, and space, and the role of documentation in ephemeral forms of art. We will consider how the body became a formal medium and its impact on the theory and practice of the visual arts from the 1970s to the present. Throughout the course, we will explore the relationships between form, content, theory, practice, site, and context as well as analyze the visual, conceptual, and political effects (and possibilities) of the work.
Format: seminar. Requirements: two short papers, one research paper and presentation.
Prerequisites: ArtH 101-102. Enrollment limit: 15 (expected: 15). Preference given to Senior majors then Junior majors.
ARTH 461T(F) Writing about Bodies (Same as INTR 461 and Women's and Gender
Studies 461) (W)
The goal is to think about describing bodies from a variety of disciplinary approaches and genres of writing. Its focus is on living bodies, or bodies that were once alive, with an emphasis on bodies that move i.e. performing bodies-actors, dancers, singers-and what makes them unique. We will also consider objects associated with bodies, and the ways they are animated, including how they are animated when the person who had them dies. The course is meant for juniors, seniors, and graduate students who wish to analyze bodies from different disciplinary formations-art, theatre, literature, anthropology, philosophy-and who have a particular interest in writing. We will read scholarly writing, fiction, New Yorker profiles, as well as memoir/autobiography, and take each as a model through which to write about a person or an object redolent of a person.
Possible readings: Roland Barthes on cultural theory and representation; Zine Magubane and Zadie Smith on othered bodies; Tamar Garb on portraiture; Elaine Scary on the body in pain; Joan Acocella, Hilton Als, Judith Thurman and other writers on the arts; Judith Butler and Peggy Phelan on the performative body; Joseph Roach, Diana Taylor, and Michael Taussig on the body, memory, and ritual; Martin Carlson and Terry Castle on haunting; and Bill Brown on things. These will be supplemented by selected tapes of live performances as well as films.
Format: tutorial. Evaluation: alternating weekly essays (4-5 pages) and responses (2-4 pages) as well as discussion; a final paper that distills the writer's own project from these cumulative exercises.
Prerequisites: ArtH 101-102, or permission of the instructor; a writing sample that conveys the kind of subject you might be interested in pursuing. Enrollment limit: 10 (expected: 10).
INTR 230(F) Prelude to Revolt: The Life and Work of Martha Graham
The revolutionary dance work of Martha Graham (1894-1991) has been compared to the artistic innovations of Picasso and the musical genius of Stravinsky. The study of Graham's development within the American cultural climate over the last decade, including her influence on the dancers and actors she trained, and her collaborations with musicians and artists, informs our understanding of the modern performance culture of today.
This course will be comprised of two elements: 1) Historic Evolution: An overview of modern dance from its roots in 1900 to the present, we will focus on the development of Graham's dance theory from her days with Denishawn to her later years, while also studying the work of her contemporaries, and her influence on artists who studied with her. 2) Dance Technique: an intensive introduction to major principles of the Graham Technique as a tool for the development of the performer in any medium. Required reading: Time and the Dancing Image by Deborah Jowitt (1988); Spaces of the Mind, Robert Tracy (2004); Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham by Agnes de Mille (1991). Videos on reserve.
Format: studio and seminar. Evaluation for the course will be based on completion and quality of each of the requirements, including term paper, performance critique paper, weekly journal, practicum exam, discussion of reading and video assignments, and active participation in studio exercises.
Enrollment limit: 19 (expected: 15). Preference given to students with some experience with dance/theatre.
Satisfies one semester of the Division I requirement.
JAPN 276(S) Premodern Japanese Literature and Performance (Same as Comparative
Some of Japan's performance traditions, which developed in different historical settings, have survived to this day and continue to coexist and compete for the attention of audiences both domestically and abroad. This course examines the Japanese literature of three major periods in Japan's history, focusing on how literary and performance traditions have been interrelated in the unfolding of Japanese literary history. We will begin by looking into the Heian period (794-1185), when the work of female authors occupied center stage and some of the canonical texts of the Japanese literary and cultural tradition were born. Next we will consider the medieval period (1185-1600), which saw the rise of the samurai class and the consequent shift in the domain of artistic creation. Then we will look at the Edo period (1600-1867), when a new bourgeois culture flourished and audiences were greatly transformed. We will also explore the continuing force of premodern literary traditions in contemporary performing arts. All readings and discussions will be in English.
Format: lecture/discussion. Requirements: active class participation, presentations, written journals, two essay questions, one paper, and attendance of live performance events.
No prerequisites. No enrollment limit (expected: 15). Open to all.
LATS 230(F) Approaching Performance Studies (Same as Theatre 230 and Women
and Gender Studies 231)
Theatre, music, dance, performance art, community activism, public gatherings, sports, eating, and rituals all fall under the rubric of "performance." Performance studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores these types of live, embodied activities as cultural acts and as theoretical paradigms. This course is an introduction to performance studies and to its theoretical bases in anthropology, dramatic theory, poststructuralism, psychoanalytic theory, folklore, cultural studies, philosophy, feminist theory, and queer theory. We will devote particular attention to performances that reflect the complexity and diversity of race and ethnicity in the United States. In addition to reading and discussing theory, we will study local live and recorded performances. This course combines theory and practice in order to understand performance as a critical space. On the practical level, students are expected to attend three workshops with Professor Omar Sangare to experiment with their body, voice, and the stage. These workshops will provide the foundation for students' final performance. This course also serves as the introduction course for the Performance Studies Program.
Format: discussion. Requirements: several short writing assignments, attendance at live performances and workshops, final essay and final performance.
No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 15 (expected: 10). Preference to Latina/o Studies concentrators, and to Art and Theatre majors. Not open to first year students.
LATS 261(S) Dance: Bodies in Latina/o Motion (Same as Africana Studies 261,
Theatre 261, and EXPR 261)
This course is dedicated to the historical and practical study of four central forms of popular AfroLatina/o dance: Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art; Rumba, a Cuban popular dance and music event; Bomba, a traditional Puerto Rican dance; and Comparsa, a choreographed music ensemble that participates in carnivals. For each genre, students will do historical and ethnographic readings, and write a short essay. These will serve as the basis for dance workshops, which will be lead by guest dancers and choreographers. We will engage with dance practice as a site of knowledge transmitted via movement, gesture, dance, and music. The goal of this course is for students to learn and to integrate the history of each genre via embodiment; in other words, to understand the history of the body's motion and gesture. The course includes a fieldtrip(s) to New York City and the learning of basic rhythms. The course culminates in a public Carnival, drawing on students' final research on Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican comparsa traditions.
Format: discussion, workshops, field trip. Evaluation will be based on class participation and workshop attendance, 3 short essays, and the final choreography and short essay on comparsa characters.
No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 19 (expected: 10). Preference to Latina/o Studies and Africana Studies concentrators, Performance Studies students, and Theatre majors.
LATS 331(F) Sound and Movement in the Afro-Latin Diaspora (Same as Africana
Studies 331, American Studies 331, Theatre 331, and Women and Gender Studies 331)
This course examines various Afro-descendant cultures through music and dance. We focus on Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico and the United States. Through the theoretical and practical study of commercial and grassroots music and dance production, we unpack how performance may re-articulate and challenge ascribed race and gender roles. The first part of the semester establishes fundamental methodological and theoretical frameworks, such as Taylor's epistemology and ontology of performance, Ortiz's transculturation, and Bahktin's carnivalesque inversion. These theories will help us understand that while music and dance are site specific practices, they also serve historically as representational terrains that narrate the Nation and its races. Through dance workshops, New York City fieldtrips, and ethnographic experience, we will explore how music and dance contest such ideological formulations. The second part of the semester concentrates on the United States and on how these expressive practices function within the diaspora. For instance, how does rumba or salsa simultaneously reinforce and/or deconstruct U.S. Latina/o identity in relationship to class, race, gender, and a shared history of colonization and neo-colonialism? Can Hip-Hop serve as a theoretical ground to question the stability of the Nation, gender, race and sexuality?
Format: discussion. Requirements: two oral presentations, one short essay, one midterm paper, one final paper, two fieldtrips to New York City, and participation in a dance workshop.
Enrollment limit: 12 (expected: 10).
LATS 375 Performance and Its Traces (Same as Theatre 375) (Not offered 2008-2009;
to be offered 2009-2010)
This is an inter-disciplinary video production workshop that explores visual strategies to produce and re-produce performance practices such as: performance art, ritual, dance, music, spoken-word and media spectacles. At the theoretical level, we will study performance as a practical, aesthetic and theoretical terrain, and as a historical site that produces knowledge in its relationship to the politics and power of representation, culture and memory. We will engage with various practices of documenting performance such as visual anthropology, docu-drama, ethnographic surrealism, dance for the camera, and other experimental approaches. In addition to the discussion of assigned readings, students will attend weekly video/film screenings, produce their own videos, and critique other students' video projects. For their final projects, students will produce a video and write a final paper analyzing the production process in relationship to the theoretical readings from the course.
Format: discussion. Requirements: several short response papers, four short videos assignments, a final video project, and a final paper.
Prerequisites: Latina/o Studies 230 and/or ArtS 288 recommended. Enrollment limit: 10 (expected 10). Preference to Latina/o Studies concentrators, and to Theatre, Art, Music, and Anthropology majors. Permission of instructor required.
THEA 104(F) Introduction to World Theatre and Performance (Same as Comparative
Literature 104) (D)
This introductory course will explore performance from around the globe, focusing on both the practice and scholarship of theatre. Study of select historical traditions will accompany a weekly "performance lab" period, during which time we'll act, direct, and play with material up on our feet. Specific topics may include: Korean Shamanism, African masquerade, Athenian tragedy, Medieval Christian performance, Iranian Taziyeh, Roman comedy, Japanese Noh and Kabuki, Indian Sanskrit drama, and national theatres in France, Germany, Ireland, and America. We'll consider both how theatre engages in cross-cultural dialogue and how various political regimes shaped the theatre over time.
Format: lecture/seminar w/lab. Evaluation: Assignments will include three short papers and a final, collaborative performance project.
No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 25 (expected: 25). This course is a requirement for and is suggested as an introduction to the major in Theatre. This course meets the criteria of and the Exploring Diversity Initiative as it both engages in a cross-cultural investigation of performance and explores how theatre is deeply embedded in political power relations.
THEA 204(F) Acting II
Building on the foundation of Theatre 103, students will develop advanced performance skills through various acting techniques defined by Stanislavsky, Brecht, Strasberg, Adler, Meisner, Grotowski, and Suzuki. Improvisation may be used to explore clarity of expression, listening, and specificity in the actor's task. Focus will be on the imagination and creation of character, and will be emphasized through scene work. Students will present diverse acting forms in a final theatre performance.
Format: studio. Prerequisites: Theatre 103. Enrollment limit: 14.
This course is a prerequisite for Theatre 306.
THEA 236(S) Political Theatre Making
Placing twentieth-century theatricality in the context of its historical roots in Western theatre, this course will examine a broad range of types of protest movements. From the biting observations of the British class system by playwrights such as Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, and John Osborne, to mid-century American political writers such as Clifford Odets and Edward Albee, and Italy's Dario Fo, to the relentless satire of contemporary South African performers such as Pieter Dirk-Uys, we will investigate dramatic writing and performance style as aspects of social and political resistance. Other groups studied may include the protest theatre of Johannesburg's Market Theatre, Luiz Valdez's Teatro Campesino, and a younger generation of post-apartheid experimentation in multi-ethnic South African theatre.
Format: seminar. Evaluation: A semester-length research project, including a substantial paper, based on the hypothetical creation of a theatre company within specific historical, social, and political contexts.
No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 15. First-year students must get permission of instructor.
THEA 250T(F) Women and Theatre: Gender, Sexuality and the Stage (Same as
English 253T and Women and Gender Studies 250T) (W)
This tutorial course will consider the understudied role of women in western theatre-as active subjects, spectators, and authors -focusing on gender identity, sexuality, performativity, and representations of the body on stage and within drama. While the focus of the tutorial will be directed towards the modern period, we will begin by studying the role of women on the English Restoration stage and consider the increasing presence of women as audience members, playwrights, and performers throughout the nineteenth century. Within the modern period, close analysis of plays by Sophie Treadwell, Gertrude Stein, Lillian Hellman, Lorraine Hansberry, Maria Irene Fornes, Caryl Churchill, Adrienne Kennedy, Holly Hughes (WOW Cafe), Wendy Wasserstein, Naomi Iizuka, Suzan-Lori Parks, Eve Ensler, Sarah Kane, Sarah Ruhl, and others, will accompany readings of select gender and performance theory. Attention will be given to the diversity of race and class represented by the women subjects of our study. This tutorial is intended for sophomores and above.
Format: tutorial. Requirements: Students will meet with instructor in pairs for an hour each week; they will write a 5- to 7-page paper every other week (five in all), and comment on their partner's papers in alternate weeks. Emphasis will be placed on developing skills in reading, interpretation, critical argumentation, and critical written and oral response.
No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 10 (expected: 10). Preference if over-enrolled: Majors in Theatre, English or Women and Gender Studies.
Tutorial meetings to be arranged. HOLZAPFEL
WNY 310(S) Art, Space, and the City
This course will explore the ways artworks and artists engage with urban space in New York City. We will examine the interactions (and tensions) between art and the public realm, considering issues such as public access, public representation, and, importantly, public space in relation to questions of democracy and dialogue. Throughout the semester we will analyze various debates on art and urban space through historical and theoretical writings and consider the issues of urban development (including, gentrification, privatization, and surveillance), cultural diversity, immigration, and globalization. In New York City, site visits will be held at museums, galleries, alternative art spaces, and in artists' studios. Institutions and organizations that support and promote public projects, particularly experimental and/or multimedia approaches, will also be introduced. Weekly writing assignments will be modeled on art reviews; with this goal in mind we will study review formats, styles, and conventions from a variety of publications over the course of the semester. Shorter writing assignments will be developed and expanded into a final paper.
Satisfies one semester of the Division I requirement.
WNY 311(S) Imagining New York City
In the past century, more literary, artistic and musical efflorescences have occurred here than in new York than in any other American city, and its artists and writers have produced the most diverse cultural products on the globe. This course will examine particularly noteworthy moments of cultural eruption that have taken place in the city, and we will come to understand why they happened in NYC and not anywhere else. While we will pay close attention to the artistic and formal aspects of these works, we will also see how these cultural products are rooted both in geographical sites (particular neighborhoods, the urban cityscape and its structures-bridges, subways, skyscrapers) and in various communities (artistic, ethnic, underground, rarified, gay, elite), many overlapping. New York, while very real, also exists as a place in the American imaginary. This course will examine writers and artists working both uptown (Harlem), downtown (the Lower East Side, the Village, Chinatown, Wall St.) and Brooklyn. We will look in particular at works which chronicle poverty (Stephen Crane, Jacob Riis) and wealth (Henry James, Edith Wharton), writings about the Brooklyn Bridge (Whitman, Hart Crane), writings by expatriates (Jose Marti, Federico Garcia Lorca), and the work produced by the Harlem Renaissance, the Beats, Black Arts Movement, the New York School of Poets, the Nuyorican Poets Café, and recent avant-garde writers. We will also look at visual art from the Armory Show, Abstract Expressionists, Minimalists, Pop artists, "graffiti artists" and current artists (e.g., graphic novelists such as Adrian Tomine). We will think about the effects of AIDS, immigration, 9/11, money, etc. on the production of cultural artifacts.
Satisfies one semester of the Division I requirement.