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Graduate Course Descriptions

Required M.A. Courses

Masters students have two required courses (8 points); the remainder of their required points may be taken in PS elective graduate seminars or, in select instances, outside the department (with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies).  Consult the DGS for details.

Introduction to Performance Studies

(PERF-GT 1000, 4 points)

To be taken in the student's first semester in the M.A. program.  This course is designed to introduce students to the field of performance studies via examination of some of the foundational texts, tracing various genealogies of the field and considering its links to various disciplines/modes of inquiry (anthropology, theater studies, dance studies, gender studies, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, etc.). What makes performance studies performance studies, and why do it? In considering this question we will consider the specificity of performance as an object of study, a mode of inquiry, a practice of self-hood and sociality, and aesthetic practice; we will also focus on the specific challenges and potentialities in writing about/as performance. This course is designed to introduce students to the field of performance studies via examination of some of the foundational texts, tracing various genealogies of the field and considering its links to various disciplines/modes of inquiry (anthropology, theater studies, dance studies, gender studies, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, etc.). What makes performance studies performance studies, and why do it? In considering this question we will consider the specificity of performance as an object of study, a mode of inquiry, a practice of self-hood and sociality, and aesthetic practice; we will also focus on the specific challenges and potentialities in writing about/as performance.

M.A. Projects in Performance Studies

(PERF-UT 2000, 4 points)

To be taken in the student's final semester in the M.A. program.  This course will run primarily as a workshop in which current MA students will begin with a paper or performance piece begun in a previous PS course and develop that project into a fuller research project. Part of the time will be spent in small (TA-led) workshops; the rest of the time will be spent en masse, where we will discuss strategies for revision, publication, and/or production. The course culminates in a symposium in which graduating MA students present an excerpt or précis of that research to the department.

Required Ph.D. courses

Ph.D. students have three required courses (8 points), with the remainder of their required points to be taken in PS elective graduate seminars or, in select instances, outside the department (with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and their advisor).  

Methods in Performance Studies

(PERF-GT 2616)

In this course we’ll be considering our respective research goals and considering some of the better (or worse) ways to pursue them.  Given the disciplinary promiscuity of performance studies, of course, our projects, goals, and means of pursuit will be widely varied; for that reason the course will be largely geared toward workshopping students’ individual projects, while tracking some of the bigger conversations on “method” taking place, and considering some of the more widely-used research methods.  Offered in alternate years with Advanced Readings.

Advanced Readings in Performance Studies

(PERF-GT 2201)

The course will work toward a collective conversation about some of the most influential theoretical and analytic texts in the field of Performance Studies. We will consider relevant disciplinary research paradigms (movement analysis, ethnomusicology, theater history, orature studies, and art history among others) and their use in PS scholarship. Through close readings of exemplary works in our field, we will consider the theoretical, ethical and practical challenges presented by different objects of analysis. Students will develop practical skills related to archival research, ethnography (including participant observation and interviewing), documentation and analysis of live performance, and the analysis of documents of various kinds, including visual material. We will discuss what constitutes rigor in a variety of research methodologies. We will consider the writing strategies that best serve different kinds of projects, including those written about and/or from minoritarian and postcolonial perspectives. Work for the course will include written responses to the weekly readings, as well as 7 exercises oriented toward the practical development of students’ exam areas and the subsequent formulation of their dissertation projects.  Offered in alternate years with Methods.

Dissertation Proposal Workshop

(PERF-GT 2301)

Those course is for Ph.D. students who passed their Area Examinations the preceding semester. The course operates as a workshop in which students draft their dissertation proposals in preparation for Dissertation Colloquia at the end of that semester, during which their dissertation committees will evaluate their proposals and determine whether or not to advanced the student to ABD status.

"The program's prolific scholarship, ongoing discourse in an array of the most diverse, important, and timely new explorations in Performance Studies is a fascinating adventure.  The intimacy created by the small size of the department allows for an amazing exchange of refreshingly differing voices, research, and methodologies."

-- Richard Move, Ph.D. Candidate and Assistant Professor of Dance (CUNY Queens College)

Elective Graduate Seminars

In addition to required courses, Masters and Ph.D. students select from a wide range of seminars that vary from year to year to accommodate both student interests and current debates in the field.  Course topics thus focus on cutting-edge research methods and objects of analysis; students are encouraged to develop their own research projects in seminars, thus creating a challenging, vibrant, and collaborative learning environment. Please see the course bulletins linked on this page for samplings of our course offerings.