Theorizing Folklore 2: The Ethnography of Performance
English 7350.02 / CompStd 7350.02
Denney Hall 0419
Prof. Dorothy Noyes
Since the 1970s, the performance turn in folklore, anthropology, and related disciplines has illuminated our understanding of agency and efficacy in cultural production. In a major revision of the modern culture concept, it focuses on cultural forms as process and practice: not texts exemplifying a static shared worldview but historically situated, conventional transactions among persons. As part of the philosophy of language’s critique of reference, it looks at how language is used to construct reality. Reacting to the focus on deep structure in most grand theory, it insists on the significance of material and interactional surfaces. Today, with its attention to bodies in motion, it is newly relevant as a corrective to the mystique of “values” and/or identities in contemporary cultural politics. This seminar will examine both programmatic texts and selected case studies in the ethnography of performance: that is, an approach based in “thick description” of instances. While theory in the field has tended to develop within genre specializations, we will examine verbal art, cultural performance (ritual, festival, spectacle) and the performance of self together in the attempt to illustrate common issues and a general paradigm. Students will share in preparing for discussion and write a research paper: literary and historical topics are welcome as well as field-based projects.
This course fulfills the Theory requirement of the Folklore GIS.
Seminar in Musicology: Music at the Limits of Citizenship
Prof. Katie Graber
This course will theorize the relationships between music, nation, race, colonialism and empire. Readings will come from the disciplines of musicology and ethnomusicology, as well as history, critical theory, and postcolonialism. We will focus primarily, though not exclusively, on how these issues have played out in North America – from early relationships with Europe through issues of slavery, Indian removal and acculturation, and shifting understandings of whiteness and immigration. Although many of the readings will focus on the Americas prior to World War I, students’ research projects may focus on any era or geographical area.
Global Dance Studies (Listed under Ethnographies of Dance and Performance)
Prof. Harmony Bench
International in scope, this course considers seriously the question of what it might mean to pursue Global Dance Studies within the larger context of dance and performance research. It thus focuses on non-Western and/or non-concert dance forms. Readings will include ethnographic histories, critical ethnographies, experimental ethnographic narratives, as well as texts that employ historical, post-colonial, trans-national, and other frames toward non-ethnographic ends. In addition to reading essays, book chapters, and/or monographs chosen by the professor (including texts by Tomie Hahn, Judith Hamera, Cynthia Novack, Diyah Larasati, Yatin Lin, Janet O’Shea, Ramón Rivera-Servera, Marta Savigliano, Joseph Schloss, David Shorter, Priya Srinivasan) students will also determine some of the course readings so as to better tailor the course content to serve their own research interests. This course will be of particular interest for students who want to think more deeply about how to “read” bodily movement and how to represent embodied practices in writing.
Mass Entertainment, Modernism, and the Rise of Realism
Prof. Jennifer Schlueter
In this course, we will wrestle with the contending historiographical narratives that have shaped scholarship on live performance between 1800 and 1945. We will approach theater in the United States and in Europe as a contested site of class conflict, entertainment, rebellion, and aesthetic transformation. We will turn to cultural historians (like Warren Susman and Steven Kern) as well as theorists (like Richard Butsch, John Storey, and Pierre Bourdieu), playwrights (like David Belasco and Arthur Wing Pinero), theater scholars (like David Savran and Tracy Davis), performers (like Al Jolson and Ellen Terry), and provocateurs (like Gilbert Seldes and Tristan Tzara) as we begin to map the divergent ways in which “modern” performance has been, and yet may be, understood. Throughout, we will be guided by Andreas Huyssen’s tense triad, articulated in his After the Great Divide as “modernism” defined “in relation to two cultural phenomena: traditional bourgeois high culture (especially the traditions of romantic idealism and enlightened realism and representation), but also vernacular and popular culture as it was increasingly transformed into modern mass culture.”