THEA 301
Embodied Archives: Global Theatre and Performance Histories Spring 2019
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed COMP 303 / THEA 301
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

History shapes bodies and is, in turn, shaped by bodies. Whose story is included in the archive? Whose story is left out? What remains over time? What disappears? Why? As theatre and performance historians, our task will be twofold: to study the past but also to question how its been constructed over time. Our obligations will include: handling, analyzing, and contextualizing primary sources; giving equal value to textual and embodied forms of knowledge preservation; taking into account the gender, race, class, status, and ethnicity of the historical participants who occupy the archive; and asking who benefitted from the ideological systems of a given age and who did not. Performance histories to be considered include: West-African Yoruba ritual; pre-Columbian performance in Mesoamerica; ancient Greek civic festivals; labor and guild theatres of Medieval England; print and Kabuki cultures of the Japanese Edo period; eighteenth-century celebrity portraiture across the circum-Atlantic; U.S. Civil War photography and reenactment; and performance histories drawn from (or unseen by) the archives of Williams College. Our readings and approaches will be informed by leading performance and cultural studies critics, such as: Diana Taylor, Joseph Roach, Saidiya Hartman, Rebecca Schneider, Harvey Young, and Tavia Nyong’o. This course is required for Theatre majors and is a prerequisite for THEA 401.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 18
Expected: 8-10
Class#: 3919
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly "free-writing responses"; two "deep-reads" of archival materials; a 5-page midterm paper; a 10-minute oral report; and a final research project or presentation
Prerequisites: THEA 101, 102, 103, 201, 204 or by permission of instructor with evidence of equivalent 100-level course in Division I or Division II
Enrollment Preferences: Theatre majors
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 303 Division I THEA 301 Division I
DPE Notes: This course directly interrogates the power inequities of the historical archive and insists on acknowledging the value of embodied practice as a form of knowledge. Students will learn to question the authorship and ownership of the past by those who controlled its preservation. We will examine primary sources as contextually constructed rather than 'givens,' and we will seek to understand the status of those observers and participants whose stories comprise the archive of performance.

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