View current and past courses below. Students can also access the Dynamic Course Schedule via CUNYfirst.

Core Curriculum Courses

The following courses comprise the core curriculum of the Theatre and Performance Ph.D. Program and are offered annually. All students in the program are required to complete these courses.

This course will provide an overview of the profession and how one begins to join the conversation it represents. 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. Factors that affect grades include: demonstration that the assigned readings have been done, via informed participation in class discussion and on an in-class exam, written on the scheduled exam date; weekly written exercises; and several class presentations, most of them connected to a final term paper.

Offered during the fall semester

A study of selected dramatic texts from world drama, representing a wide range of traditions and forms, from ancient times to the present. Three or more plays, depending on length, will be analyzed each week, along with ancillary theoretical and historical materials. Plays studied will be placed in historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts and viewed in relation to other works of literature, art, and music. Special consideration will be given to the nature and history of genres, such as farce, tragicomedy, melodrama, history play; types, such as the political, including agit-prop, living newspaper, documentary, verbatim; movements, such as Sturm und Drang, naturalism, symbolism; modes, such as satire, pastoral, grotesque, sublime; devices and conventions, such as parable, allegory, ekphrasis; themes and topics (topoi), such as myth, social or natural environments (ecocriticism), war, exile; and cultural encounters, such as appropriation, adaptation, parody. Assignments include one short and one longer paper and a final examination.

Offered during the fall semester

This course has two objectives: to introduce students to theatrical theory and to examine other theories that have influenced contemporary theatre and cultural studies. The course will begin with a discussion of what constitutes theatrical theory and then proceed modularly to examine such key theatrical and performance concepts as representation, mimesis, character and identity, genre, 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/cultural theories as formalism and structuralism, semiotics, post-structuralism, feminism, and post-colonialism, as well as other disciplinary approaches—coming from, for instance, anthropology, sociology, and psychology—that have transformed theatre studies. Assignments will include two written projects (either two annotated bibliographies or one annotated bibliography and a research paper) as well as in-class presentations and a final examination.

Offered during the spring semester

This course is designed to provide students who have passed their first examination with an in-depth study of the theoretical and historiographic methodologies that have proven most important for theatre and performance studies. The course aims to help students become fluent in these critical languages and prepare them to frame their dissertation topics, conduct original research, and select the theoretical models most useful for interpreting and elaborating on their research. The theoretical readings will cover a broad range, such as cultural materialism, sociology, and feminism, as well as the methods associated with postcolonial and performance studies. The historiographic readings will focus on questions of the reliability and value of evidence, contextualization, periodization, and the relation of theatre studies to other disciplines. The written assignments aim to help students formulate field statements and book lists for the second examination and prepare them to organize the kind of intervention required of a dissertation.

Offered during the spring semester

Course Schedules by Semester

THEA70600: History of Theatrical Theory (Core Curriculum)

Professor David Savran
Tuesday 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Room 3310B

This course has two objectives: to introduce students to theatrical theory and to examine other theories that have influenced contemporary theatre and cultural studies. The course will begin with a discussion of what constitutes theatrical theory and then proceed modularly to examine such key theatrical and performance concepts as representation, mimesis, character and identity, genre, 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/cultural theories as formalism and structuralism, semiotics, post-structuralism, feminism, and post-colonialism, as well as other disciplinary approaches—coming from, for instance, anthropology, sociology, and psychology—that have transformed theatre studies.  Assignments will include two written projects (either two annotated bibliographies or one annotated bibliography and a research paper) as well as in-class presentations and a final examination. 

THEA80400: Advanced Theatre Research (Core Curriculum)

Professor Jean Graham-Jones
Wednesday 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Room 3308

This core course is designed to provide Theatre and Performance students who have passed their First Examination with a survey of different models for the dissertation and the dissertation proposal, as well as historiographic and theoretical methodologies that have proven especially important for theatre and performance studies in recent years. Encouraging students to become fluent in these critical languages, the course aims to prepare them to define their fields of study, build reading lists, frame dissertation topics and proposals, conduct original research, and select the approaches most useful for interpreting and elaborating on their research. Because this course is intended in part to provide an overview of recent work in theatre studies, we will be attentive to new historical methods and attempt to pinpoint emerging areas of research. The course will develop students’ theoretical self-awareness by allowing them to experiment with a variety of approaches and to do research in one of their three Second Examination fields. Over the course of the semester, students will be expected to submit several written assignments (including a professional autobiography and statement of interests, a field statement, and an analysis of two CUNY dissertations) as well as lead a one-hour session based on the student’s field statement and/or reading list, stressing theoretical and methodological tools.

Evaluation for final grade: Your final grade will be calculated by averaging the grades for the written assignments, your class-led preparation and discussion, and your overall participation in the seminar.

THEA85200: Performing Arts in Asia: Focus on China and Japan **COURSE CANCELLED**

Professor Peter Eckersall
Tuesday 4:15 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.

This course will investigate theatre and performance in the regional context of East Asia, a place of dynamic change and rapid modernization.  The course will have a specific focus on theatre in Japan and China and will also explore other arts and artists from the region, including some examples from Singapore and Korea.  It will introduce students to major performance traditions including Noh, Kabuki and Chinese traditional theatre.  It will further consider the ways that theatre has responded to modernization and the development of contemporary culture through studies of theatre artists and contemporary forms of performance.  The course will study plays, documentation of performances and the historical and contemporary contexts for notable performance groups.  As such, a selection of plays will be examined in English alongside the work of theatre directors and performance makers including artists working to develop interdisciplinary and intercultural forms of expression. A focus of the course will be the consideration of theatre and performance as connected to contexts of nationhood, modernity, culture, politics and globalization.  Hence, we will consider a diverse range of theatre and performance events that show contestatory connections with political and cultural histories while also paying attention to the everyday lives of people wherein performance is a means of documenting and transforming personal experiences. 

THEA85400: The Grotesque in Theatre

Professor Annette Saddik
Monday 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Room 3212

The Theatre of the Grotesque, an anti-realistic dramatic movement that emerged in Italy during the 1910s and 1920s, highlighted the ironic cruelties and incongruities of life, often through macabre elements and tragic humor.  It sought to emphasize the sense of futility that accompanied World War I and its aftermath, and is often seen as a precursor to the Theatre of the Absurd.  More generally, the notion of "the grotesque" in theatre rests on contradiction, ambiguity, and Victor Hugo's theories of incongruity, merging the ugly and the beautiful.

Along these lines, this course will begin the study of the grotesque in theatre with Luigi Chiarelli's introduction of the term, and examine the work of Enrico Cavacchioli, Luigi Antonelli, and Luigi Pirandello in Italy.  We will then move on to discuss the historical development of the grotesque in German expressionism and kabarett/cabaret, the work of Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Jean Genet and Grand Guignol in France, the late plays of Tennessee Williams and Adrienne Kennedy in the U.S., Argentinean and Uruguayan playwrights Jacobo Langsner, Roberto Cossa, Ricardo Moni, and Griselda Gambaro, Plínio Marcos in Brazil, and several grotesque plays of the Middle East, including those of Youssef Idriss in Egypt and Bahram Beyas'I in Iran.  Finally, the course will explore the "new" grotesque characterized by the work of Martin McDonough and Tracy Letts, and discuss the relationship of the grotesque to related forms, such as the Gothic, British Hammer Horror films, and Charles Ludlum's Theatre of the Ridiculous.  The theorists we will be covering include Mikhail Bakhtin, Wolfgang Kayser, Julia Kristevea, Victor Hugo, and Vsevolod Meyerhold. 

Assignments will include two essays and an oral presentation.  Essay #1 (7-10 pages) will be worth 30 percent; Essay #2 (10-15 pages) will be worth 40 percent; and the in-class presentation of 20-30 minutes will be worth 30 percent.

THEA86000: Festive and Ritual Performance

Cross-listed with Global Early Modern Studies Certificate Program GEMS83100

Professor Erika Lin
Thursday, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Room 3310B

This course will examine theories and practices of festive and ritual performance in a range of times and places and will explore their implications for theatre as both an aesthetic object and an efficacious performative enactment. Topics for discussion may include: religious ritual and popular devotion; dance, gesture, and movement; games and sports; roleplaying, especially in relation to race, gender, sexual identity, and class; icons and objects; magic, astrology, and witchcraft; birth and funeral rites; nonlinear temporalities; ritual space and place; holidays and calendar customs; animals and environment; food and drink; violence and combat; erotics and sexuality. Each class session will bring together disparate theatre and performance practices by centering on a particular theme. For instance, we might consider popular devotion in Carnival and Hindu processional drama; audience affect among seventeenth-century Caribbean black ritual healers and twentieth-century U.S. reinvented saint traditions; racial impersonation in relation to commedia’s legacy and Philadelphia mummers; performativity in Malaysian spirit possession and modern pagan witchcraft; and altars and other objects in feminist ritual acts. Culturally specific theatre and performance practices will be analyzed in relation to theoretical work by writers such as Joseph Roach, Diana Taylor, Max Harris, Claire Sponsler, Richard Schechner, Victor Turner, Mikhail Bakhtin, Catherine Bell, Kay Turner, Marina Warner, Johan Huizinga, Brian Sutton-Smith, Carlo Ginzburg, Peter Burke, and Ronald Hutton. Evaluation: active class participation, short weekly response papers, possible brief in-class presentation, research proposal with annotated bibliography, and a final paper.

THEA 70100: Theatre Research(Core Curriculum)

Professor Erika Lin 
Thursday 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This course will provide an overview of the profession and how one joins the many conversations taking place in it. 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 attempt to 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; an in-class exam written on the scheduled exam date; frequent written exercises; and several class presentations, most of them connected to a final seminar paper based on archival research.

NOTE: All THEA courses are listed as hybrid given ongoing uncertainties about COVID-19; there may be unexpected changes in instructional mode.

THEA70300: Context and Intertextual Studies in Drama (Core Curriculum)

Professor Hilary Miller
Tuesday 4:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

A study of selected dramatic texts from world drama, representing a wide range of traditions and forms, from ancient times to the present. Two or more plays, depending on length, will be analyzed each week, along with ancillary theoretical and historical materials. Plays studied will be placed in historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts and viewed in relation to other works of literature, art, and music. Special consideration will be given to the nature and history of genres, such as farce, tragicomedy, melodrama, burlesque; types, such as the liturgical or the political, including agit-prop, documentary, and verbatim; movements, such as neoclassicism, naturalism, symbolism; modes, such as satire, pastoral, grotesque, dystopian; devices and conventions, such as parable, allegory, narration; themes and topics, such as myth, nation, diaspora, ecocriticism, war, and exile; and cultural encounters, such as appropriation, adaptation, parody, and reception. Assignments may include a series of short papers and a final examination.

NOTE: All THEA courses are listed as hybrid given ongoing uncertainties about COVID-19; there may be unexpected changes in instructional mode.

THEA80300: Theatre, Performance and Time

Cross-listed with English, Art History and Critical Theory Certificate Program (exact course numbers will be posted shortly)

Professor Maurya Wickstrom
Monday 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This course is an exploration of contemporary thought on temporality, with a particular focus on theatre, performance, and theatre scholarship as important mediums for new temporal or alternative experience and thought. The class takes as a central point the problematic of linearity and modernist and teleological narratives of progress, with Walter Benjamin as a central provocation. We will also explore the relation between history and time, dominant modes of temporality in neoliberalism, and key philosophical interventions in time such as those by Giorgio Agamben. Importantly, the class will also consider our recent intense experience of Covid-time and Black uprising. Zoom productions like Richard Nelson’s new Apple family plays, or Forced Entertainment’s End Meeting for All, were early explorations of this pandemic temporality. The time of Black uprising has foregrounded how much Black people have generated, and lived in, temporalities alternative to Euro/North American linear capitalist times. This is articulated in an abundance of Black scholarship and practice on time that expresses the fullness of what the uprisings offer to living differently. Further, this time is marked by the publication of Race and Performance After Repetition (2020). The volume emerged from an ASTR José Esteban Muñoz Targeted Research Working Session and is the theme of the rescheduled ASTR conference in Fall 2021. It will be a central organizing structure for the course. The volume, grounded in Muñoz’s thought, directs itself to moving elsewhere from the fascination with the temporal signature of repetition that has often been dominate among performance scholars thinking about time. In so doing, it opens up especially into evocations of, for instance, Black futurity, afterlife, the wake etc. as significant and active experiential concepts for a livable life for those who have battled “racial time” for centuries

Performance work might include, for instance, An Octoroon (Branden Jacobs-Jenkins), The B-Side (Eric Berryman/Wooster Group), We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly known as South West Africa (abbreviated title - Jackie Sibblies Drury) in conjunction with The Refusal of Time and The Head and the Load (William Kentridge), Moneymaker (the Covid-time live durational performance by Holly Bass performed in the window of Live Arts), Architecting (The TEAM), and performances by Cassils, Andrew Schneider and M. Lamar. Theorists may include, in addition to those included in Race, Repetition and Performance, Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben, W.E.B. Dubois, Fred Moten, Alexander Weheliye, Bruno Latour, Gary Wilder, Lisa Lowe, Saidiya V. Hartman, Alain Badiou, Giulia Palladini, Nicholas Ridout, Christina Sharpe, and Sarah Jane Cervenak.

Course Requirements: one short presentation, one short paper (5-8 pages), and one long paper (10-15 pages).

NOTE: All THEA courses are listed as hybrid given ongoing uncertainties about COVID-19; there may be unexpected changes in instructional mode.

THEA 85300: German Theatre/Performance

Professor David Savran
Tuesday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

During the winter and spring of 2020 when performing arts venues around the world were shuttered because of COVID, state-subsidized theatres in Germany and Austria livestreamed archival performances, some dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. This sudden availability of video recordings by many great directors enormously enriches our understanding of what has been arguably the most continually innovative theatre tradition in the West since the nineteenth century. This course will analyze some of the treasures that have become available, focusing on the most celebrated German directors and the playwrights and composers who have inspired them, including Aeschylus, Euripides, Goethe, Schiller, Büchner, Wagner, Ibsen, Chekhov, Brecht, and Weill. As this course will show, classic plays in German theatre are understood not as the museum pieces they sometimes become in Anglophone productions, but opportunities for directors and actors to make work that is urgently—and sometimes shockingly—contemporary. We will also be studying key theoretical and critical texts (in English) related to the plays we are reading and watching. Finally, the course will examine original work developed since 2010 by directors and theatre collectives in collaboration with composers and performers, some of it directly or indirectly responding to the Syrian refugee crisis and the rise of neo-fascism. 

Although most of the videos assigned for class will be recordings of classic plays (of which translations are readily available), very few have English titles. So unless you have a working knowledge of German, you will have to become adept at understanding the language of mise en scène. Evaluation: three short written reports, class participation, and a final paper.

NOTE: All THEA courses are listed as hybrid given ongoing uncertainties about COVID-19; there may be unexpected changes in instructional mode.

THEA86000: Contemporary Latin American Theatre and Performance

Cross-listed with LAILAC as SPAN86300

Professor Jean Graham-Jones
Wednesday, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This course takes a “geochronological” approach to surveying contemporary Latin American theatre and performance. In other words, the course will be organized around the last six decades to examine theatre and performance practices of several countries within the context of each particular decade. Special attention will be paid to principal trends and movements of late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century Latin American theatre and the cultural terms in play during each decade. We will study how Latin American theatre practitioners have adopted, adapted, critiqued, and rejected extra-Latin American traditions, as well as created, transformed, and questioned specifically Latin American theoretical and aesthetic models.

Course requirements and expectations:
Three 500-word responses, one 500-750-word summary of a recommended book or 2-3 of the grouped recommended articles, and a final research paper (15-20 pages).

NOTE: All THEA courses are listed as hybrid given ongoing uncertainties about COVID-19; there may be unexpected changes in instructional mode.

THEA85700: Performing Research

Cross-listed with ART86040 (Art History owns this course)
Professor Claire Bishop
Thursday, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

This is an experimental, practice-based class for students who want to think about alternative and public-facing means of dissemination for their research. The emphasis will be on New York City as a site, and classes will be held at a different outdoor location each week. Topics include lecture performances, audio-books, chapbooks, radio/podcasts, street vending, and delegated performance. It is open to students from all departments, but priority will be given to students from Art History and Theatre & Performance. The class meets on Thursday mornings from August to November, 9.30am–12.30pm. (NB there will be no classes after Thanksgiving because of the weather.)

THEA70600: History of Theatrical Theory (Core Curriculum)

Professor Peter Eckersall
Monday, 4:15 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.

This course has two objectives: to introduce students to theatrical theory and to examine other theories that have influenced contemporary theatre and cultural studies. The course will begin with a discussion of what constitutes theatrical theory and then proceed modularly to examine such key theatrical and performance concepts as representation, mimesis, character and identity, genre, 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/cultural theories as formalism and structuralism, semiotics, post-structuralism, feminism, and post-colonialism, as well as other disciplinary approaches—coming from, for instance, anthropology, sociology, and psychology—that have transformed theatre studies.  Assignments will include two written projects (either two annotated bibliographies or one annotated bibliography and a research paper) as well as in-class presentations and a final examination.  

THEA 80300: The Urban/Rural Divide in Queer American Theatre and Performance

Professor Sean Edgecomb
Tuesday 4:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

This seminar considers how urban and rural queer U.S. Americans have been represented in dramatic text, on the stage and in film, striving to develop a discourse that will deconstruct if not dismantle the false dichotomy between performed urbanity and rurality in the United States. This intersectional and interdisciplinary class focuses on queer/trans theory, feminist theory and critical race theory as applied to theatre history/performance studies, dramatic texts and theatrical/filmic performance and further considers how socio-economics, class, education, race, gender, aesthetics, ecology, regionalism and circumscribed narratologies have structured the boundaries of a national rural/urban divide.

In 2005 Jack Halberstam introduced the notion of “metronormativity” to question why most histories and critical inquiries of LGBTQ+ U.S. American society have been focused on the city as the only viable source for the national queer imaginary and its associated cultural practices. In contrast, the rural has been most often associated with queer persecution, absence or even death dealing. The false dichotomy set up by this model presents the city as the only safe, let alone productive, destination for LGBTQ+ U.S. Americans and the source of a codified “homonormativity.” After settling on working definition of “queer,” students will complete units on queer rurality/rusticity followed by queer urbanity/metronormativity and a final third unit that seeks to complicate and/or dissolve the boundary that separates them. 

Unit one focuses on the queer rural and includes readings by Halberstam, Scott Herring, Mary L. Gray, E. Cram, Brian J. Gilley, Matt Brim, Stina Soderling, Garret Nichols, Berit Brandith and Polly J. Smith and includes plays and performances such as Farm Boys, Our Town, The Laramie Project, The Prom, Queer Appalachia/Electric Dirt, Short Mountain, Bard Summerscape’s Peter Pan and Oklahoma! and films including Brokeback Mountain, Beneath the Harvest Sky, Monster, God’s Own Country and Boys Don’t Cry.

Unit two focuses on the queer urban and includes readings by D.L. Miller, Jose E. Muñoz, Michael Warner, Jill Dolan, Marion M. Bailey, Sara Warner, James F. Wilson, Donald Vining, Kate Davy, Stacy Wolf and David Savran and includes plays and performances such as The Captive, The Boys in the Band, Bent, The View Upstairs, Galas, Daddy, Gently Down the Stream, Stop Kiss and The Baltimore Waltz and films including Flesh, Moonlight, Tangerine and Carol.

The third and final unit invites students to think past the rural/urban divide in queer American performance and in addition to readings by Edgecomb, Shane Vogel, Alicia Arrizón, Kim Marra, Selby Wynn Schwartz, Niskapisuwin Neptune, additional articles will be sourced by the students over the course of the semester. Plays and performance texts include O, Earth, Dr. Ride’s American Beach House, A Ride on the Irish Cream, The Inheritance, Summer at Bluefish Cove, Love! Valour! Compassion! and A.J. and the Queen as well as the materials gathered by students as part of their research.

Evaluation: oral presentations, weekly “queer” theory journal entries, class participation, selected reading leadership and a final research paper.

In this class, students will continue to develop writing skills, knowledge of theory, theatre and performance across geographical and historical periods and the ability to analyze performance and theatre/film with originality and precision while effectively putting into practice a developing familiarity with relevant theory and methodology. This seminar will assist in working toward the completion of the following Department Learning Goals: 1, 3, 4 and 5.

THEA81500: Performing Blackness from Stage to Screen

Professor Racquel Gates
Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Given early cinema’s connection to stage performance, it should come as little surprise that many of the tropes and representational strategies that the cinema adopted to portray blackness bore, and continue to bear, close relation to minstrelsy and blackface. This seminar will examine the ways that “performing blackness” has played a crucial role in the evolution of cinema, whether from the perspective of Jewish artists trying to establish their racial identities in early Hollywood, or African American artists attempting to subvert dominant representational modes. While the course will focus heavily on Hollywood cinema and mainstream media, it will also incorporate discourses from performance studies, critical race studies, and gender studies. Screenings will cover a large range of genres and historical periods.

Course Goals:
-To critically engage with the history and theories of American minstrelsy and its impact on cinema and contemporary media.
-To develop an understanding of the ways that cinema represents race, particularly
categories of black and white.
-To apply theories of racial representation to a wide range of cinematic and media texts.
-To produce a research paper grounded in the scholarship and discourses of racial representation and cinema.

Required Texts:
Jake Austen and Yuval Taylor. Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 

Ashley Clark. Facing Blackness: Media and Minstrelsy in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. Raleigh, NC: The Critical Press, 2015. 

Arthur Knight. Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical Film. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2002. 

Eric Lott. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class, Race and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Michael Rogin. Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Nicholas Sammond. Birth of an Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2015.

Linda Williams. Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001. 

THEA85200: Advanced Theatre Research

Professor Erika Lin
Thursday, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This course will examine theories and practices of festive and ritual performance in a range of times and places and will explore their implications for theatre as both an aesthetic object and an efficacious performative enactment. Topics for discussion may include: religious ritual and popular devotion; dance, gesture, and movement; games and sports; roleplaying, especially in relation to race, gender, sexual identity, and class; icons and objects; magic, astrology, and witchcraft; birth and funeral rites; nonlinear temporalities; ritual space and place; holidays and calendar customs; animals and environment; food and drink; violence and combat; erotics and sexuality. Each class session will bring together disparate theatre and performance practices by centering on a particular theme. For instance, we might consider Mardi Gras and Carnival in relation to racial impersonation; movement and religious space in Christian and Hindu processional drama; audience participation and community formation in contemporary queer theatre; site-specific performance, ecocriticism, and the history of modern pagan witchcraft; poverty and charity in mumming and other holiday begging customs; mock combat, blood sports, and dramas of ritual sacrifice; and animal masks and puppetry in diverse dance traditions. Culturally specific theatre and performance practices will be analyzed in relation to theoretical work by writers such as Joseph Roach, Diana Taylor, Max Harris, Claire Sponsler, Richard Schechner, Victor Turner, Mikhail Bakhtin, Catherine Bell, Kay Turner, Marina Warner, Johan Huizinga, Brian Sutton-Smith, Carlo Ginzburg, Peter Burke, and Ronald Hutton. Evaluation: active class participation, short weekly response papers, possible brief in-class presentation, research proposal with annotated bibliography, and a final paper.

THEA85500: History of Scenic Design

Professor Marvin Carlson
Monday, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This course will cover the major trends and leading theorists and practitioners of theatrical stage design in the West from the Renaissance to the present. A wide selection of visual material from the program image collection will be shown in class, which will take place in a computer classroom. There will be approximately three classes devoted to design from the classic period through the 17th century, one on the 18th century, three on the 19th century and six on the 20th and 21st centuries. During the term each student will prepare biographical and artistic studies of two designers, one pre-twentieth century, and one from the twentieth and/or twenty-first centuries. There will be a final examination based on identification of images from the program collection.

THEA86000: Transatlantic Theatre and Performance: Golden Age Spain and Pre-Conquest/Colonial Latin America

Professor Jean Graham-Jones
Wednesday, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This course focuses on theatre and performance produced in Spain and Latin America during, primarily, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Rather than treating Latin America as a colonial extension of the Spanish-speaking metropolis, we will respond to the "transatlantic turn" in Latin American and Peninsular studies and examine the two regions through their nearly constant (albeit often conflicted) dialogue with each other. To do this we will discuss, apply, and critique the sociocultural, political, linguistic, literary, theatrical, and performance theories of coloniality.

After a transatlantic introduction to the period, we will look at theatre / performance practices in place in both regions before the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas and then proceed to an examination of Spain’s “Golden Age” of theatre as well as colonial theatre and performance in Latin America. We will read autos sacramentales in addition to entremeses and comedias from both sides of the Atlantic; study accounts of Corpus Christi processions in Madrid and Cuzco in addition to reconstructions of pre-Hispanic performance-scripts in Meso-America and Canada; and seek out specific examples of cultural encounter, such as the translation of a Spanish evangelical drama into Nahuatl or a colonial loa intended for a madrileño audience. Among the authors whose texts we will study are Rojas, Lope de Rueda, Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Calderón de la Barca, Cervantes, Ruiz de Alarcón, sor Marcela de San Félix, Ana Caro, and sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Special consideration will be given to the role of translation in our own study of theatre and performance.

Evaluation will be based on engaged, prepared participation, the posting of multiple short responses, an in-class contextualization of an individual theorist, and a final research paper (15-20 pages).

THEA 70600​: History of Theatrical Theory (Core Curriculum)

Professor Peter Eckersall
Tuesday 4:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

FSCP 81000: Aesthetics in Film

This course is sponsored by Film Studies Certificate Program
Professor Jerry Carlson
Wednesday 4:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

The movies – that is, narrative feature films – have always been recognized as a powerful medium for storytelling. Indeed, a century of censorship attests to the fears provoked by film’s seductive spell. FSCP 81000 will explore how that spell is created by the many strategies and tactics of storytelling, some shared with other media, others unique to cinema. To do so, we will engage with the history of narrative theory (or, narratology, as Tzvetan Todorov coined it in 1969). What explanatory powers do different theories offer? Our survey will move from Aristotle’s foundational Poetics to pre-cinematic theories of fiction (for example, Henry James), from the Russian Formalists to French high theory (Barthes, Genette, et al.), and from Neo-Formalist explanations (Bordwell) to ideologically positioned interventions from Marxism, psychoanalysis, queer theory or other approaches. We will put each theory in conversation with a pertinent feature film. The range of screenings will be global and diverse in narrative forms. Filmmakers may include, among others, Buster Keaton, Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Agnes Varda, Alain Resnais, Nicolas Roeg, Raul Ruiz, Chantal Akerman, Wong Kar-wai, and Tomas Gutierrez Alea. A number of questions will recur as we explore different theories. What is plot? How can the effects of plotting be explained? What are the options for cinematic narration? What is in common with other media? What is medium specific? How can narratology explain the nature of cinematic authorship? How does cinema create characters? How can it place them in social context or explore their subjectivity as they journey through the plot. The precision of our answers will help explain the spell of the movies in their social, cultural, historical, and emotional impact.

Seminar in A Dramatic Genre: The Romantic Movement

Professor Marvin Carlson
Monday 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This course will explore the manifestations of the romantic movement in the European and United Stages theatre in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, focusing upon England, France, Germany and the United States, but including other European countries as well. Among the topics covered will be romanticism in playwrighting, scenic design, costume, acting, and critical theory. The course will begin with pre-romantic movements, the Sturm und Drang in Germany and the English Gothic movement and will extend to the mid-nineteenth century. Two papers will be required.
Learning goals: To acquaint the students with one of the most important international movements in theatre history and how it affected the various arts of the theatre, including playwrighting, which will lead the students to study a number of seminal texts from a variety of nations. Both this and the visual elements of the course are aimed to increase the students’ general knowledge of the field.

Advanced Theatre Research (Core Curriculum)

Professor David Savran
Tuesday 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

FSCP 81000: Seminar in Film/Media Theory: Strategies of Resistance

This course is sponsored by Film Studies Certificate Program
Professor Amy Herzog
Thursday 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This course will provide a survey of Film and Media Theory, with a particular focus on activist media and strategies of resistance.  The seminar will be organized historically, spanning Soviet revolutionary films, 1960s newsreel collectives, Third Cinema movements, labor organizing media, activist television, contemporary anti-gentrification media, and digital and social media production. Each session will juxtapose mainstream fictional and non-fictional representations with contemporaneous media produced by independent resistance groups, as well as studies of the labor conditions and economic structures that shape the media industries during that period. Each student will research their own “constellation” of historical media texts, and media-based creative projects will be encouraged.

Questions of intersectionality and power will be core to this course. What formal strategies have emerged at different historical moments, and toward what ends? How do industry structures, distribution networks, and exhibition contexts impact the meaning of media texts? Who performs what labor within the media technology industries, and how is access determined? What historical forces impact the evolution of film and media theories? How can spectatorship theorized in relation to diverse media audiences and transforming sites of consumption?

Readings and screenings will include readings and media works by Sergei Eisenstein, Walter Benjamin, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Third World Newsreel, Chicana Por Mi Raza Media Collective, Racquel Gates, DIVA TV, Electronic Disturbance Theatre, Mariame Kaba, Cardi B, and Lisa Nakamura. Student research projects will culminate in a final paper and multimedia dossier. Project proposals and field notes will be shared via a course website, and findings will be presented in class.

History of the American Theatre: Theatre in 1970's New York

Professor Hillary Miller
Thursday 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This course will trace the transformation of New York City’s theatrical landscape during what has been mythologized as one of the city’s most turbulent decades, the 1970s. We will focus on the institutionalization of radical 1960s theatrical formations during a period in which the logic of scarcity reorganized the city’s cultural spheres. How did artists, communities, and governmental figures respond and adapt to the changing sites of performance and conditions of a municipality in crisis? And how have theatre artists represented those changes on the contemporary stage?

After we evaluate the existing historiographical narratives of 1970s U.S. theatre, we will explore a series of case studies including Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa E.T.C., Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre, Vinnette Carroll’s Urban Arts Corps, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, and Jonathan Ringkamp and Geraldine Fitzgerald’s Everyman Street Theatre Company. Playwrights may include Micki Grant, Julie Bovasso, Tom Eyen, Miguel Piñero, Maria Irene Fornes, Sam Shepard, Adrienne Kennedy, Jessica Hagedorn, Amiri Baraka, Robert Patrick, Ed Bullins, Dominique Morisseau, and Joseph A. Walker. We will ask how the changing spatial and social organization of New York’s theatrical communities informed the thematic and formal choices playwrights made—and how the economic crisis and austerity ideologies shaped audience expectations of performance across the city.

Historical readings on the development of “downtown” theatre in New York, as well as readings addressing the emergence of the “neoliberal city” will aid us as we conceptualize theatre as a social practice and part of municipal processes. A series of methodological queries will underpin our explorations. What research strategies facilitate the comparative study of community-based, neighborhood performance and centralized theatrical formations? How have theatre historians conceptualized the relationship between competing “locals”—neighborhoods, audiences, and theatres? Our readings will provide both historical and socio-cultural contexts for theatre and performance practices in urban centers during the 1970s and beyond.

THEA70100 – Theatre Research (Core)
Thursday 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Professor Erika Lin

This course will provide an overview of the profession and how one joins the many conversations taking place in it. 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 attempt to 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; an in-class exam written on the scheduled exam date; frequent written exercises; and several class presentations, most of them connected to a final seminar paper based on archival research.

THEA71400 – Aesthetics of Film (Cross-listed from Film)
Thursday 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Professor Nicole Wallenbrock

Aesthetics of film is an essential course for graduate students of any field who wish to write with expertise about film and film matter. In this course students will learn the very specific vocabulary needed to communicate the way in which film generally, and a film specifically, functions—for this reason, Film Art by David Bordwell and Karen Thompson will be our primary text. We will screen films together that will serve as primary examples of one film element under discussion. Articles by film scholars and theorists in Dropbox will supplement our study, such as Robert Stam and Louise Spence, "Colonialism, racism and representation," and Linda Williams, “Mirrors without Memories.”

We will begin with a study of film narration (Carol Todd Haynes, 2016). We will next do a thorough study of how elements of film, such as lighting (Passing, Rebecca Hall, 2021) composition, camera movement (Power of the Dog, Jane Campion, 2021), set design/location (Opening Night, John Cassavetes, 1971), color, duration, editing, sound/music (Sorry to bother you, Boots Riley, 2019), and casting (Wanda, Barbara Loden, 1971) impact the narrative and alter our perception of characters and events. We will constantly question why (and when) a film is canonized and what might represent a disruption (for example the experimental shorts Meshes in the Afternoon Maya Deren, 1941 and Scorpio Rising Kenneth Anger, 1963). Class discussions may at times highlight depictions of race and gender, but also incorporate the effect streaming and small screens have on filmmaking styles and reception.

THEA80300 – (Seminar in Theatre Theory & Criticism) 
Translating (Contemporary) Theatre and Performance: Theories and Practices
Wednesday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Professor Jean Graham-Jones

This seminar takes a “translational” view of translating for the stage, expanding upon Walter Benjamin's acknowledgement of relationality in textual translation to consider not only the linguistic-cultural text—the play-script or so-called source and target texts—but also the many other challenges faced when translating, translocating, adapting a play or performance.  To do this, we will study theatre and performance translation’s multiple cultural constraints and constructs in relation to one another--translationally--as part of the translation process itself.  We will begin historically, considering general theories and practices of theatrical translation, as well as the roles of the translator in the theatre.  After this general introduction, we will examine the myriad challenges, limitations, and opportunities specific to translating for the contemporary stage.  These challenges include dramaturgical logic and theatrical genres; actor training, casting and rehearsal practices, and performance styles; choreography, gesture, and embodiment; surtitling and other in-performance translation practices; and performance aesthetics and reception.  Finally, we will look at contemporary performance translation as a political practice: the refusal to (self) translate, the translational potential of the decolonial gesture, and alternative approaches to translating performing bodies.  There will be a practical component to the seminar: students will work throughout the semester with a performance or text that they wish to consider translationally.  Possible projects might be individual in-progress translation work, but they can also involve a critical engagement with one or more extant translations or performances.  The final result of this semester-long project will be a 12-15-page seminar paper.  The course will be taught in English, but reading knowledge of at least one other language is encouraged.  Students will be evaluated on in-class participation and short writing assignments as well as the final seminar paper.

THEA80400 – Advanced Theatre Research (Core)
Tuesday 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Professor David Saran

This core course is designed to provide students who have passed their first exam with an examination of the historiographic and theoretical methodologies that have proven most important for theatre and performance studies in recent years. Encouraging students to become fluent in these critical languages, the course aims to prepare them to frame their dissertation topics, conduct original research, and select the historiographic and theoretical models most useful for interpreting and elaborating on their research. Because this course is intended in part to provide an overview of recent work in theatre studies, we will examine new historical methods and attempt to pinpoint emerging areas of research. The course will develop students’ theoretical self-awareness by allowing them to experiment with a variety of approaches and to do research in one of their three second exam fields.  Assignments: Over the course of the semester, students will be expected to submit several written assignments (including a professional biography and statement of interests, a field statement, and an analysis of two CUNY dissertations) as well as lead a class based on the student’s field statement and reading list, stressing theoretical and methodological tools.


THEA85200 – (Seminar in Theatre History & Production) Puppets, Performing Objects, and Material Performance
Monday 4:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
Professor Claudia Orenstein

Puppetry, as both a field of scholarship and a performance practice, has expanded and diversified in recent years. Performing objects have a long history, globally, within ritual, in sophisticated traditions aimed at adult audiences, and as popular entertainment. Today, contemporary artists around the world are experimenting with innovative approaches to the art, challenging puppetry’s boundaries while creating new material performance models and mixed media events. While puppetry has always crossed paths with other theatrical and performative arenas, theatre’s growing theoretical engagement with object-oriented ontologies and the ubiquitous presence of performing objects on stage and screen – taking lead roles on Broadway, in avant-garde productions, and within technological media – has brought puppetry, a once marginalized field, squarely into the heart of theatre and performance studies. Puppetry, more expansively defined today with terms like “performing objects” or “material performance,” remains simultaneously a distinct aesthetic field and one deeply intertwined with other performance, media, and visual arts.

This course offers a critical, theoretical, and historical introduction to the field of puppetry, broadly defined, orienting students to this aesthetic realm: its histories and traditions, current manifestations, foundational texts, modes of analysis, and contemporary conversations. Through scholarly readings, viewings of both live and recorded performances, and simple practical workshops that offer an embodied understanding of material performance, the course gives students the necessary background for thinking and writing critically about puppetry and engaging productively with the growing field of puppetry scholarship. The course readings address puppetry from a variety of points including semiotics, phenomenology, feminist studies, cognition theory, anthropology of religion, comics theory, and robotics, among others, and include texts by Edward Gordon Craig, Heinrich Von Kleist, Jirí Veltruský, Jan Mrazek, Jane Bennett, John Bell, Kathy Foley, Matthew Cohen, Henryk Jurkowski, Scott McCloud, Jane Taylor, among many others. Some of the artists whose work is addressed in the course include William Kentridge, Ilka Schönbein, Duda Paiva, Julie Taymor, Robert Le Page, The Brothers Quay, Handspring Puppet Company, Oriza Hirata, Tadeusz Kantor, Royale de Luxe, Kara Walker, and Ping Chong, among others. Course Requirements: active class participation in discussion and any hands-on projects; short weekly response papers; possible short in-class presentation of one book or artist’s work; one performance review; choice of final paper or hybrid paper/performance project.


THEA85400 – (Seminar in Comparative Drama) Rethinking the Theatre History Syllabus
Tuesday 4:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
Professor Bertie Ferdman

As its title suggests, this course addresses the need to rethink how we teach “Theatre History” through the lens of 21st-century movements that counter patriarchal, heteronormative, racist and nationalist systems of thought. As future college professors, you will (most likely) be asked to teach a generalized survey course at the undergraduate level. Rising consciousness of Eurocentric narratives that privilege Western ideologies stemming from Enlightenment thinking warrants a recalibration of what shape such generalized survey courses should/could take. What to include? How to frame what is included and why? How to address exclusions? What geographical and cultural areas to prioritize and why? How to create a balance between temporal chronology, spatial geographies, cultural forms, and aesthetic movements? This course will look at different ways to engage with theatre’s varying histories with an emphasis on what we choose to teach and why. The goal of this course is thus a pragmatic one. We will critically engage with the content and methodology of possibilities for creating your very own Theatre Histories survey course. We will look at a variety of existing textbooks and pair these with critical readings around historiography, postcolonial theory, Black studies, performance studies, indigenous studies, and queer theory, by authors such as Sara Ahmed, Christopher B. Balme, Tracy C. Davis, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Simon Gikandi, David Graeber, Leo Cabranes-Grant, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Erika Fischer-Lichte, Fred Moten, Noémie Ndiaye, Rebecca Schneider, Diana Taylor, David Wiles, Patricia Ybarra, and Harvey Young.

Assignments will require students to do book reviews of textbooks, edited collections, and existing syllabi to critically engage with methodology. Students will then create their own Theatre Histories syllabus for an undergraduate course along with a teaching philosophy statement. Together, the students will co-author a group essay for publication on approaches to teaching survey theatre histories courses for undergraduates.