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Spring 2018 Courses

Undergraduate Course Bulletin

All courses are held at 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Department of Performance Studies, unless otherwise noted.

Performance of the City: New York


L. Brawner
PERF-UT 103.001 (15396) – Fridays, 3:30pm to 6:00pm
4 pts. – 613

This course is designed to give undergraduate students a foundational understanding of New York City as an object of history and as a site that has fostered the remarkable development of what became known as performance art.  Here, we won’t approach performance, and performance art, monolithically, but will develop a broad historical understanding of what these expansive terms might look and feel like in and outside of the space of the museum or venue.  We will be attentive to theories, methods, and practices of contemporary performance, while engaging with a wide scope of major (and minor) works. Seeing work will be central to our curriculum.  For our class, we will use all of the resources at our disposal in New York and at NYU: museums, venues, the Fales Library & Special Collections, the New York Public Library, and the New York-based performing artists, curators, and programmers who populate this vibrant, expanding artistic discipline. 

Performance Studies: An Introduction


E. Mee
PERF-UT 200.001 (22402) – Thursdays, 12:00pm to 3:15pm
4 pts. –  613

The course is taught using a blended learning approach. Guided online by Richard Schechner, a founder of the field of performance studies, and in person by an instructor, students explore the performances in the Americas, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, and the Pacific islands.

Students delve back in time to ask what kind of performances took place in the caves of paleolithic Europe? How do these ancient shamanic and initiatory practices relate to Burning Man, YouTube, and today's avant garde?  How do people perform their professions, their genders, their races and nations, their identities, their social lives, and their daily rituals?  For this course, Schechner filmed interviews with more than a dozen scholars, scientists, and artists.  Embedded in the course are clips and images of many different kinds of performances.

Student engage each other directly in class and blog with each other during the week.  Students form groups to devise performance projects.  Performance Studies--An Introduction puts students in interactive dialogue with the most important events, people, theories, and questions of the dynamic, emerging field of performance studies.

Performance Composition: Instruction/Score/Script/Map/Image


E. Philbrick
PERF-UT 201.001 (15613) – Thursdays, 4:30pm to 7:00pm
4 pts. – 612

While visual practices are often thought of as occurring either before performance (ie. the creation of scores) or after performance (ie. the creation of documentation), this workshop-based course poses a more experimental relationship between performance and visuality.  We will approach composing performance as an multi-medium creative act that takes place not just on the stage but also on the page and screen.  Through encounters with the work  of artists such as John Cage, John Coltrane, Ralph Lemon, Ana Mendieta, Pauline Oliveros, Clifford Owens, and Carolee Schneeman and theorists such as Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, George E. Lewis, and Rebecca Schneider, students will explore the ways in which notation and various forms of mark-making (writing, drawing, mapping, etc) can become vital and central elements of their performance practice. 

Performance Histories


M. Gaines
PERF-UT 205.001 (21868) – Tuesdays, 3:30pm to 6:00pm
4 pts. – 613

Countering the “presentist” critique of performance studies as a field (i.e., that its emphasis on “liveness” limits it to analysis of contemporary practices), this course will examine both the long history of performance (and the specific research methodologies that are required for that examination), and the history of performance studies as a mode of social inquiry.  How have performance, and the writing about performance, been deployed historically, and to what ends?  How can contemporary researches access the archives that house answers to these questions, and how do archives in themselves constitute an historiographic “performance”?  Students will consider the impact of performance in the contexts of (post-)colonial history, aesthetic genealogies, and other historiographic projects.

Performance of Everyday Life


S. Afshar
PERF-UT 206.001 (15580) – Tuesdays, 10:00am to 12:30pm
4 pts. – 612

In this course, we broaden our definition of performance to apply the quotidian as method and optic of study. We turn to the critical crossings that practices of everyday life form in their encounters with the political, social, economic, and historical to ask: Can the quotidian—“second nature,” seemingly “normal” acts—bring about change or is it a promise of perpetuity? Conversely, to what extent does the performative realm of the sociopolitical inform our everyday practices? Together will pay close attention to and break down the stories being told via everyday practices, focusing on what happens when we read their performative efficacy rather than their presumed “intentions.”

Drawing from affect studies, anthropology, critical cultural theory, feminist and queer theory, psychoanalysis, architectural studies, and sociology, we will survey texts that theorize the quotidian from the perspective of the somatic, the traumatic, the oneiric, the ecological, and the virtual. Objects of analysis will include trending cultural productions that can be read, seen, heard, tasted, and hopefully felt. Finally, we will question what a performance-centered approach to everyday life brings to critical analysis and writing. This course incorporates an intensive writing component; through your written experiments with memoir writing, ethnography, (academic) essay writing, and ficto-criticism, we will partake in thematic explorations of topics on belonging, home, space, time, rhythm, affect, and the senses. This course will help you expand your definition of performance both in thinking and writing about the real and virtual world that surrounds you. 

Performance and Technology


T. Black
PERF-UT 304.001 (21869) – Thursdays, 1:30pm to 4:00pm
4 pts. – 612

This course considers the concept of technology as a way of thinking about performance generally, and then focuses specifically on the role of various technologies in performance – historically as well as in contemporary practices. How do technical innovations, new knowledge, etc. make new forms of performance possible? How do we perform with, for, and against technologies, and how might the notion of performance shift in considering new technological paradigms? The course will consider both technology in (aesthetic) performance and the performance of technology in extra-theatrical settings. The course will examine a wide variety of recent critical and theoretical writings on performance, technology, and new media, as well as a number of contemporary applications. Students will also explore their own relationship to technology and performance, and examine the role of technological performance in society.

Topics in Performance Studies: Performance and Law


K. Shimakawa
PERF-UT 305.001 (21870) – Wednesdays, 10:00am – 12:30pm
4 pts. – 613

This course looks at where and how law is performed -- on stages and screens, in courthouses and on subway platforms, in our homes and in our bodies, "law" plays a foundational role not only in regulating our actions, but also in shaping our senses, our values, and our aesthetics.  Course requirements: 25-30 pages of reading per week; weekly blog entries; two group presentations; one final research paper (8-10 pages).

Capstone: Final Projects


B. Browning
PERF-UT 400.001 (15446) – TBA
4 pts – TBA

Students in this course will build on a research paper/project that they originated in another PS course, with the goal of extending, refining, and further developing it in order to synthesize what they have learned, as well as further hone their research, analysis, and writing skills.