Course: Writing About Performance

This course introduces students to the craft of writing in the discipline of performance studies–learning to write critically and creatively about theater, dance, performance art, film, and social practice. Students also study relevant models of performance scholarship emerging from the field, with a particular emphasis on: 1) performance theory that engages the ephemeral, or fleeting, nature of live performance, and the challenges this poses to the spectator and critic; 2) case studies of performance scholarship that engage the material conditions in which performance acts are staged, including the politics of race, class, religion, gender, and sexuality; and 3) performance and performance criticism as modes of engaging the writing and rewriting of history. As a class, we will take several field-trips to see contemporary performance in Philadelphia, and to practice writing about live events. Throughout, an emphasis will be placed on voice, and students will be trained to write in a variety of styles, including a genre of writing known as “performative writing,” which is a practice that mixes academic and creative prose.