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Fall 2015

Theatre Research and Bibliography (Professor David Savran): This course will provide an overview of the profession and how one joins the many conversations taking place in the profession. Classes will concern such matters as general research methodologies as demonstrated in current publications; approaches to historiography; the procedure for getting papers accepted for conferences and the  benefits of participating therein; and a number of issues related to teaching. A constant theme will be the preparation and writing of research papers, conference papers, and papers for publication. Examples and strategies will be drawn from scholarship on a broad range of geographical and historical material. We will plan a trip to one of the theatre archives in New York and you will be responsible for conducting and writing up archival research. Factors that affect final course grades include: informed participation in class discussion and an in-class exam, written on the scheduled exam date; frequent written exercises, including a performance review; and several class presentations, most of them connected to a final term paper
Thursdays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm

History of Theatrical Theory (Professor Peter Eckersall): This course will introduce students to theatrical theory as a research discipline and will examine theories that have influenced contemporary theatre and performance studies. We will begin with a general discussion of what constitutes theory and then proceed modularly to examine such key theatrical and performance concepts as representation, mimesis, dramaturgy, and audience response. A modular structure will allow us to follow and create ongoing dialogues about these concepts as they have evolved. The second objective of the course will be met through, again, a modular approach to the presentation and discussion of such influential critical and cultural theories as formalism and structuralism, semiotics, post-structuralism, deconstruction, feminism, and cultural theory, as well as other disciplinary approaches—coming from, for instance, anthropology, sociology, and psychology—that have transformed theatre and performance. In addition to the readings, video documentation of performances is suggested for some of the topics and students are invited to bring their own examples of relevant dramatic texts and theatre and performance works into the discussion.
Tuesdays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Seminar in Theatre Theory and Criticism:  History of New York Theatre before 1900 (Professor Marvin Carlson): This course will study the social, cultural, and literary development of the stage in New York from the colonial period until 1900.  The work of major dramatists, from Royall Tyler through John Augustus Stone, Anna Cora Mowatt, Dion Boucicault, and Augustin Daly, to Bronson Howard and Clyde Fitch will be read but also placed in their historical context, particularly that of the changing New York theatre scene.  Special attention will be given to the various forms of ethnic theatre and of reform and sensational melodrama, and some attention will be given, especially in the later nineteenth century, to such popular forms as the minstrel show, the operetta, and vaudeville.  If possible, the class will attend performances of plays of the period in the city presented by such groups as the Metropolitan Playhouse.  Two papers will be required.
Mondays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Seminar in Theatre Theory:  Extending Queer:  Theory and Performance (Professor Sean Edgecomb): This seminar presents a comprehensive and pluralist study of queer theory as it may be applied to critically analyze performance, both theatrical and lived.  Moreover this course will consider queerness (as theory/identity and performance) as it continues to develop in a global context.   A deep engagement with text that is often dense, esoteric, and even contradictory will be essential. The course is divided into three sections: 1) Foundations,  2) Affect, and 3) Globalization. It begins with an investigation of queer theory through its post-Foucauldean origins, including theories of Butler, Sedgwick, Jagose, Berlant, Savran, and Warner and considering early queer performers and artists ranging from Charles Ludlam, Ethyl Eichelberger, and Split Britches to the “NEA 4.”  The second unit traces what Ann Pelligrini deems queer theory’s “affective turn,” considering the anti-identitarian and minoritarian work of key scholars including Muñoz, Freeman, Dolan, Halberstam, Cvetkovich, Love, Puar, Ahmed, Cohen, Edelman, and Rodriguez.  Theatre and performance artists considered may include Vaginal Davis, Taylor Mac, Heather Cassils, Nina Arsenault, Justin Vivian Bond, Nath Ann Carrera and Amber Martin's Witch Camp, Big Freedia, and Annie Sprinkle. The third unit of the course introduces a second wave of queer theory, focusing on a global approach to queer and trans performance that traces queer theory’s recent non-Anglophone developments in places such as Southeast Asia, France, the Balkans, Brazil, China, Australia, and beyond.  Theorists studied will include: Eng, Coehlo, Gomez, Stephens, Edgecomb, Sa’at, Lim, Duggan, Fierstein, Massad, Boone, and Ho.  Artists considered may include: Karla Dickens, Alexander Guerra, Queers for Economic Justice, Pink Dot, Viet Le, Takarazuka Review, Marga Gomez, Justin Chin, David Hoyle, Stacy Makishi, and Shi Tou.  Final evaluation will be based on active class discussion, a 30-minute in-class oral presentation on an assigned topic and a final 20-page research paper on a preapproved queer artist that applies at least two of the theorists studied in class. Students will be encouraged to independently engage with queer performances taking place throughout NYC.
Wednesdays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Seminar in Theatre: Critical Dance Studies:  Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Dance (Professor Susan Tenneriello): The field of dance studies over the past two decades has enlarged cross-disciplinary perspectives on performance through a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to embodiment. By rethinking how dance forms, choreographers, and dance writing cross borders, the study of bodies in motion encourages inquiry into social, political, and cultural processes through the lenses of movement, corporeality, space, choreography, and temporality. This course explores the scope of dance analysis through a range of choreographic discourses from the early twentieth century to contemporary trends that emphasize dance visibility across performance as sites of embodied socio-political and cultural practice. We will cover a wide-range of dance figures, including Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, and Pina Bausch; and such dance forms as ballet, jazz, Bharata Natyam, Flamenco, and neo-burlesque. Course topics explore different approaches to dance—representational systems, theatrical dance, improvisation, resistant practices, digitized bodies, public display—in order to pursue the theoretical and critical arguments surrounding notions of time, space, and enactment in the choreographic that both challenge and embrace a dialogue of mobility. The course layout will allow us to carry historical and interdisciplinary conversations forward. A primary objective of looking at the spectrum of dance in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is to ask how dance practice and its study engage experiential conditions that extend different understandings into issues of narrative, identity, economic conditions, cultural transmission, and globalization. Readings will cover the diversity of thought in dance studies redirecting notions of embodiment. The dance writings of Susan Leigh Foster, Mark Franko, Sally Banes, Priya Srinivasan, Ann Cooper Albright, and Anthony Shay are among the reading selections. Course requirements include weekly reading assignments, class facilitation on a topic related to class discussions, a research proposal, and 15- to 20-page research paper.
Tuesdays, 4:15pm to 6:15pm

Seminar in Film Studies:  Four American Directors:  Huston, Scorsese, Jarmusch, Sodebergh (Professor William Boddy): This course explores issues of authorship, genre, adaptation, and film and social history through the scrutiny of selected feature films by four diverse and distinctive American directors: John Huston, Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, and Steven Soderbergh. Collectively, their careers span a half-century of filmmaking and suggest the historical possibilities for personal expression within and beyond traditional Hollywood genres and industry structures. From James Agee’s 1950 profile of John Huston as “The Undirectable Director” through Steven Soderburgh’s elegiac “State of Cinema” speech at the 2013 San Francisco Film Festival, the shifting notions of creative independence as seen through the evolving critical reputations of these four filmmakers can illuminate wider changes in American film criticism and culture. Course requirements include weekly response journals, a 5-page critical essay, and a 15-page research paper. No previous course experience in film studies is required, and students from a variety of academic backgrounds are welcome. 
Wednesdays, 11:45am to 3:15pm

Seminar in Film Studies: History of Cinema I:  1895-1930 (Professor Marc Dolan): This is a course in the history and historiography of the silent cinema, from the zoopraxiscope experiments of Eadweard Muybridge to the reluctant conversion of industries, artists, and audiences to fully synchronized sound.  Much of the course will explore how the foundations of modern filmmaking evolved out of the rudimentary work of the earliest filmmakers--how the Edison and Lumiere “actuality” films led to the explicitly labeled “documentary,” the cinematic tricks of Georges Melies to the fantastic action/adventure film, the early melodramas of Porter, Guy-Blache, and Griffith to the so-called “classical” narrative style, etc.  However, the course will not employ an exclusively auteurist approach. We will also consider the developments of specific national film industries, particular genres, and the points of intersection between those two sets of developments (e.g., American slapstick, Italian historical epics, Swedish naturalism, German expressionism, Soviet montage).  Moreover, the play between identifiable national cinemas and the syncretic medium of international cinema will be a central theme of the course, especially since the idea of film as a potentially universal language was one of the most powerful dreams of the silent era. Students will view on reserve and in class individual examples of all these types of films. Three classes during the term will be devoted to reconstructed programs (including short subjects, newsreels, cartoons, etc.) of what a typical audience might have seen when they went to the movies in 1907, 1912, and 1927. Readings will primarily be drawn from David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s Film History: An Introduction and Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen’s anthology Film Theory and Criticism, but other readings will be put on reserve to reflect the specific interests of registered students.  Individual pre-class viewing assignments will be varied some weeks depending on students’ more focused areas of interest.  All students will conclude the semester with a final presentation and paper that goes beyond our weekly assignments to enlarge our collective understanding of the first third of a century of global cinema.
Thursdays, 11:45am to 2:45pm

Seminar in Film Studies: Documentary/Non-Fiction Film (Professor Noah Tsika): This course explores the transnational development of documentary and its social and institutional articulation as (often simultaneously) an art form, a pedagogical tool, a therapeutic discourse, and a vehicle for public policy; it embraces investigations of a variety of national contexts, raising the following questions: How, over the past 100 years, have documentaries managed to balance political and artistic aspirations? How have their makers sought to position themselves in relation to social knowledge, artistic endeavor, and humanist activism? How might social and cultural theory help us to understand the operations of documentary in different national contexts and at various historical moments? Threaded throughout this course are the interrelated matters of reenactment, narrative staging, and outright fabrication, and the question of what these devices “do” to documentary. The distinct phases of this course include but are not limited to the following: documentary modernism in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Soviet Union; state documentary in the US, UK, and Canada; World War II training films and the US military's theories of documentary pedagogy; pre- and post-independence West African military documentaries; state documentary in Senegal and Nigeria; colonial and anti-colonial documentary ethnography in Guinea, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Mali; feminist documentary in Senegal and Togo; anti-state documentary in Japan and the United States; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer documentary in the US; various forms of documentary reenactment (from sociological reenactment to historical and counter-historical reenactment); documentary remakes; and the docudrama. Each of these phases will involve the study of documentary definitions of the state, its policies, and its peoples.
Mondays, 4:15pm to 8:15pm