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In modern parlance and scholarship, blackness is understood not as a biological but rather a socially constructed phenomenon. This course extends common perceptions by working from the foundational concept that blackness is not only social construction but also performance and lived experience. Using the lens of performance on racial identity foregrounds the active and shifting nature of race in contrast to the potentially passive, static connotation of construction. But what is this term performance that is now so widely used as to be an anathema? In this course, we explore performance broadly as entertainment, representation, social function, and lived experience. By the end of the course, students will analyze multiple performance types from theatrical and dance performance to performance of race in everyday life. They will also study and practice at least four core black performance studies methodologies: oral interpretation of literature, ethnography, written performance analysis, and embodied performance (i.e. movement, music and/or theatre). In this way, students will begin to understand performance as both subject matter and method. The course will be structured around discussions, written responses, and performance exercises that help students analyze and practice each methodology. At the end of the semester, students will create final creative research projects that articulate key theories of black performance studies and draw on at least one of the featured performance methodologies. While preference is given to Africana Studies concentrators, students are not required to have prior performance experience.
Format: seminar; This is a hybrid class that welcomes students' participation remotely and/or in the physical classroom. It will include a mix of online synchronous and asynchronous meetings alongside meetings in the classroom. This term the course will feature performance methodologies most receptive to social distancing, such as visual art, spoken word and music. There may also be field trips to important sites, which will follow university safety guidelines.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
class participation, performance exercises, response papers, and a final creative research project
Africana Studies concentrators
AFR Core Electives