Fall 2019 Courses

Undergraduate Course Bulletin

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

Introduction to Performance Studies


A. Vazquez
PERF-UT 101.001 (15084)
Tuesdays, 10:00am – 11:45am
4 pts. – 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 612

Recitation Sections
PERF-UT 101.002 (15270) – Thursdays, 10:00am – 11:15am, 612, A. Sansonetti

PERF-UT 101.004 (24582) – Thursdays, 10:00am – 11:15am, 613, E. Barnick

PERF-UT 101.003 (15271) – Thursdays, 2:00pm – 3:15pm, 612, E. Barnick

To enter the field of Performance Studies is to proceed with a willingness to forgo strict definitions of art “objects” and “events.” The field encourages engagement with the enactments of everyday life, things inside and outside formal cultural institutions, and an expansive notion of performance space to reflect on how “objects” and “events” impact our sense of the world.  While the question, “what is performance?” has mystified the minds of many, this course will move beyond this question by investigating: what does performance do? And how does performance help us to understand contemporary questions about aesthetics, politics, and the social world? To enter into the question “what does performance do?,” is to open the line between theory and practice; a line that falsely separates “performer” from “critic.” In addition to deepening an understanding of the field of Performance Studies, students will read texts that vitalize critical thinking in all curricular areas of the arts and sciences. The course will engage theories of the field as they emerge from performances themselves, especially from the robust creative repertoires of New York City.

Performance Theory


K. Shimakawa
PERF-UT 102.001 (15187) – Wednesdays, 12:30pm – 3:15pm
4 pts. – 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 613

This course examines the diverse issues and methodological questions raised by different kinds of performance.  Where “Introduction to Performance Studies” asks, “What is performance?  What counts as performance, and what is its cultural significance?” this course asks, “How can we interpret and analyze performance?  What is ‘theory’ in this context, and how do theory and practice inform each other?”  Readings introduce students to key concepts in the field such as “ritual,” “performativity,” “liveness,” and “affect.”  Material for the course (readings, videos, and other media) exemplify the interdisciplinary nature of performance studies by drawing from work in aesthetics, anthropology, architecture studies, ethnic/area studies, queer studies, religious studies, legal studies, literary studies, etc.

Performance of the City: New York


C. Delgado
PERF-UT 103.001 (15296) – Tuesdays, 10:00am ­– 12:45pm
4 pts. – 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 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 Composition Workshop


A. Lindsay
PERF-UT 201.001 (20143) – Wednesdays, 3:30pm – 6:15pm
4 pts. – 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 612

This year's Performance Composition class will examine two scales of performing: parades and improvisation.In both cases we'll pay special attention to forms imported from other mediums and disciplines. Through a mix of analysis and practice, we'll look at Brazilian Carnaval and recent New York improvising from this perspective. At the end of the semester we'll put on our own parade and performances.

Arto Lindsay is an artist, musician and producer born in Virginia, USA in 1953 and raised in Brazil. After living for 30 years in New York  he has been living in Brazil again since 2004. In 1977 in New York he formed the band DNA, which was part of the compilation album "No New York" produced by Brian Eno. In 1978, he joined the Lounge Lizards and then formed the group Ambitious Lovers with Peter Scherer in 1985. Since then he has been releasing records under his own name.

He produced records by by Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Marisa Monte, David Byrne, Waldemar Bastos and Ilê Aiyê among others. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with both visual and musical artists, including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dominique Gonzalez Foerster, Vito Acconci, Matthew Barney,  Laurie Anderson, Animal Collective, Cornelius, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Topics in Performance Studies: Performing Absence


B. Browning
PERF-UT 305.001 (20065) – Thursdays, 3:30pm – 6:15pm
4 pts. – 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 613

In 2010, Marina Abramović famously declared, “The Artist is Present.” But what does it mean for an artist to perform absence? For the performance theorist Peggy Phelan, “Performance’s only life is in the present” – and in presence. And yet absence – particularly impending or already experienced loss – doesn’t merely provoke, necessitate or inspire performance. Sometimes absence itself is performative. This course will examine the concept of absence in performance from a variety of perspectives, some mundane, some conceptual. We will consider absenteeism, substitution and surrogacy; the refusal to show up; psychoanalytic approaches to separation anxiety (Freud’s fort/da and Winnicott’s transitional objects), and the work of artists (such as Lee Lozano, Ana Mendieta and Adrian Piper) who have absented themselves in highly performative acts. In addition to theoretical discussions, the class will entail some performance experiments.



L. Rincon Alba
PERF-UT 306.001 (15264) – Mondays, 3:30pm – 6:15pm
4 pts. – 721 Broadway, 6th Floor, Room 613

In this course students will consider both the ways race and ethnicity have been deployed historically in performances (theatrical and otherwise), as well as how “race” or “ethnicity” might be understood as a performative identity in itself. This course takes race and ethnicity as its lens through which to consider performance, and vice-versa, asking: what might race and ethnicity do to our study of performance and what might performance (studies) do to our understanding of race and ethnicity? How have race and ethnicity historically been deployed in and as performance? How might they be understood as both performed and performative? Using an intersectional feminist, queer, and anti-racist theoretical lens, this course mines theater, performance art, dance, performances of everyday life, visual art, fiction, music, film, video, and performative/experimental writing for the many ways in which race and ethnicity are enacted, sensed, felt, embodied, sounded, choreographed, listened to/for, and danced.


Capstone: Final Projects


M. Gaines
PERF-UT 400.001 (15214)
4 pts

*OPEN TO PS MAJORS ONLY* Please contact Laura Fortes at lf65@nyu.edu to register.

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.