Mass Theatre and Performance
Theatre 7899.07 – Special Topics: Theatre History
Tues/Thurs, 3:00 – 5:05 PM
Drake Performance and Event Center, Rm. 2068
Dr. Shilarna Stokes
This graduate seminar introduces participants to the study of festivals, carnivals, pageants, mass spectacles, parades, interventions and mega-events, and offers the opportunity to conduct focused research on a mass performance event (historical or contemporary) in a collaborative setting. We will consider how mass theatre and performance events give shape to collective identity and collective subjectivity by examining primary texts and by thinking through key readings in theory and historiography drawn from different fields including performance studies. We will examine how the embodied discourses they perform negotiate questions of race, class, gender, ethnicity and nationality emerging in the public sphere, and we will practice different methods of researching and analyzing these complex events. Case studies include, among others: the Passion Play of Iztapalapa; the Olympic Games (London, Beijing, Vancouver, and Sochi); the Notting Hill Carnival; recent pride parades in the US and India; “flash-mob” and pageant protests; Nazi Party Congresses; Bolshevik mass spectacles; American historical pageants; presidential motorcades and transformational festivals (Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle).
Comparative Folklore: Approaches to Festival and Festival Forms
Comparative Studies 5957.01
Wed/Fri 2:20 – 3:40 PM
Hagerty Hall 0259
Dr. Katherine Borland
Folklore major/minor core elective, GIS:Topics #25618/ #25617
Festival, Dance, Sport, Pilgrimage, Ritual Enactment, Street Drama, and Protest are complex, collective, embodied, artistic expressions worth studying comparatively. As sites of popular celebration, arenas of conflict, opportunities both for commerce and for intense interpersonal or religious identification, they provide rich folkloric texts for interpretation and analysis. In this course we will sample the ethnographic record of collective performances as we tackle a broad range of theories about and approaches to the study of people in motion including but not limited to: myth-ritual, collective effervescence, safety valve, place-making, symbolic inversion, collective reflexivity, semiotics, phenomenology, restored behavior, communitas, boundary marking and maintenance, play theory, performativity/theatricality, conflict, flow.
The course is run as a seminar. In addition to reading and discussing interpretive approaches to popular movement, students will take responsibility for surveying and presenting new work on their chosen cultural tradition. Students are expected to pursue independent research throughout the term, culminating in a paper and class presentation that frames their research within at least one of the analytic or interpretive approaches we have studied in class. Our class goal will be to develop a comparative framework for understanding the socially and historically contextualized studies students bring to the table through their research.
International Studies 4800
Wed/Fri 2:20 – 3:40 PM
Hayes Hall, Rm 024
Prof. Dorothy Noyes
This course explores cultural diplomacy (CD), broadly understood: the exchange of performances and ideas across state borders with the intention of building political influence. We consider the theory and practice of cultural diplomacy in several contexts. To begin with, we explore the current prominence of the culture concept in international affairs, considering both its useful ambiguities and its limitations as an analytical tool. Then we consider diplomacy itself as a kind of cultural performance. Next we look at the historical context in which state-sponsored CD took shape in the twentieth century, followed by the rise of alternatives to the Cold War model, emerging from both postcolonial and domestic resistance. In this context, nonstate actors and grassroots groups began to conduct their own forms of CD. Finally we look at the recent revitalization and reshapings of both state and non-state CD in response to consumer capitalism, the globalization of public opinion, new media, and geopolitical shifts. In each case we’ll examine concrete examples of cultural forms in motion to parse the possible effects and efficacy of CD initiatives–including Louis Armstrong in the Congo, tourist campaigns in Franco’s Spain, Soviet folkdancing in the US, Salvadoran testimonio, the Beijing Olympics, wedding drinking in the Caucasus, Hollywood comedies, Thai beauty contests, US counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan, the voluntourism of American college students, “Gangnam Style” takeoffs, and lots more. Two essay exams and a short observation-based paper. This course counts for the Minor in Folklore.
1. To situate state-sponsored cultural diplomacy in the larger universe of cultural transfer and circulation between nation-states
2. To guide you to a critical perspective on the culture concept in social life, policy, and scholarship
3. To show you how to make sense of performances in context, as both cultural form and political action.
Bodies on the Line: Politics and Performance
Wed 2:15 – 5:00 PM
Sullivant Hall, Rm 316D
Dr. Harmony Bench
This graduate seminar begins with the proposition that all politics are a politics of the body. We will therefore set out to examine how bodies are framed and deployed for political functions, how they circulate or are constrained, and how people choose to put their own bodies on the line as testimony of their political investments. In our pursuit of these political bodies on the front lines of cultural conflicts and of social change, we will draw from multiple fields of study, including critical cultural theory, performance art, performance studies, and dance studies. We will further interrogate how these political and performing bodies create physical vocabularies of movement as they negotiate identities, display themselves or are displayed for visual consumption, protest social inequalities, and experience pain—even death. We will bring a choreographic lens to bear on each of the topics encountered in this course, along with a set of analytical tools attuned to the dangers of having one’s body on the line.
Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology
Tues/Thurs 3:55 – 5:15 PM
18th Ave. Library, Room 0270
Dr. Ryan Skinner
In this course, we will explore and interrogate a variety of approaches to the “field” in (and of) ethnomusicology. Beginning with the concepts and practices of an established anthropology of music (including participant observation, thick description, radical empiricism, and dialogic ethnography), we read, look, and listen into other models for the study of humanly organized sound in the world (including the anthropology of the senses, sound studies, visual anthropology, historical [ethno]musicology, cultural studies, performance studies, and media and communication studies). As such, this course will encourage students to think broadly, critically, and creatively about the field(s) of ethnomusicology and the work we do (and create) therein. To encourage meaningful cross-disciplinary encounters, students will have the opportunity to interact directly with several visiting scholars (in person, or online) throughout the semester. Students will also be expected to complete two small fieldwork projects, conducted locally, which they will present to the class at the midterm and final sessions of the class.
African Pop(ular) Culture
Wed 12:00 – 2:45 PM
Journalism Building, 0291
Dr. Ryan Skinner
This course focuses on the rich variety of African popular culture as a way of elucidating the politics and poetics of urban social life in the modern African world. By referring to the African world, this course recognizes that the popular culture of urban Africa takes shape within a dynamic array of local, regional, and global communities, through which media, technology, capital, ideas, and people circulate with greater and greater frequency. The modernity of this world is evidenced by its extensive engagement with, contributions to, and contestations of the nation-state, the global economy, and the transnational circuits of culture from the hinterlands of the Global South. The term “popular” turns our attention to the sub-cultural, counter-public, and frequently youth-driven social and aesthetic trends cultivated in cities, within particular contexts of labor, politics, leisure, ritual, and consumer capitalism. The culture to which we refer encompasses a great variety of expressive forms, including music, dance, visual art, literature, theatre, and cinema. This culture is African to the extent that the post-colonial and trans- (and increasingly post-) national crises, struggles, accomplishments, and aspirations reveal common interests, concerns, and solutions emergent from the continent, its cities, and diasporas. By reading, listening, and looking deeply into the urban popular culture of the African world, this course will make a strong case for the significance of the popular performing and visual arts to the study of Africa in the social sciences and humanities, attesting to the vital place of such expression in the world today.