Performance Studies, Analyses & Applications

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In this module, students will explore the interdisciplinary field of performance studies, learning fundamental theories, histories, and practices in/of performance. Students will engage in both the study and making of performance as a tool for institutional and community transformation.

Module Coordinator: Joshua Chambers-Letson

Committee of Instruction: Joshua Chambers-Letson, Marcela A. Fuentes, E. Patrick Johnson, D. Soyini Madison, Ramón Rivera-Servera, Mary Zimmerman, Shayna Silverstein

Module Advisor: Roxane Heinze-Bradshaw

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the critical role of performance in the making and transformation of social and political realities
  • Use performance as a lens to assess, critique, and improve organizations, communities, and institutions
  • Apply performance as an action-based method of advocacy, mediation, and social/cultural transformation



Choose one from the following two options.

  • Introduction to Performance Studies: PERF ST 200
    The course offers students an introduction to the field of performance studies, attending to fundamental histories, theories, and practices of/in performance.
  • Performance, Culture, and Communication: PERF ST 203
    Through improvisation, symbolic movement, embodied imagery, rhetorical vignettes, and newspaper theatre students will enact oral histories, cultural myths, and contemporary news stories relating to human rights and social justice. (Note that for students interested in pursuing a practice based capstone, 203 is highly recommended).

Choose three additional courses in performance studies. At least two must be above the 300 level and at least one must meet the department’s diversity requirement.

Diversity requirement courses:

  • PERF ST  302 Performance in Asian America
  • PERF ST  303 Transnational Flows of Performance
  • PERF ST  304 Sonic Practices of Middle East and North Africa
  • PERF ST  307-1,2 Studies in Gender and Performance I and II
  • PERF ST  309 Black Performance
  • PERF ST  310 Literature and Performance of Women of Color
  • PERF ST  334 Human Rights and Radical Performance
  • PERF ST  336 Latina/o Performance

Capstone Experience:

Guided by the question of what does performance do and how it can help grow vibrant communities, for their capstone experience students will engage in practical work in cultural organizations, museums, city programs, advocacy groups, or governmental institutions.

Capstone projects will primarily take one of two forms:

Option A:
A practical project such as a public engagement program, a curatorial proposal, an organizational strategy plan, a series of workshops or other pedagogical experiences that foster creative cooperation and transformational work. Following the successful execution of the project, no later than the sixth week of the student’s graduating quarter, the student will produce a professional portfolio.

The portfolio must include:

  • A professional bio of 250 words
  • An analytic/reflexive essay assessing the challenges, achievements, and possibilities brought about by the implementation of performance as a method of social/cultural intervention
  • An intellectual history tracking the student’s development throughout module coursework and experiences
  • A report on past and current cultural workers, institutions, and organizations using performance as a pedagogic, transformational tool
  • A strategic plan detailing career goals and institutions or organizations to be targeted for future work

The portfolio may include:

  • A timeline indicating different stages in the development of the project
  • Interviews or oral histories and archival documents
  • Correspondence with consultants
  • Reviews of performance events or talks that inspired the student
  • An annotated bibliography of consulted materials

Option B:
A scholarly research project using performance as a lens and object of analysis of community transformation. This project will take the form of a capstone thesis employing a historical, ethnographical, and/or theoretical engagement with case studies. For this option, students will assemble a committee of two faculty members (including the advisor) who will evaluate the capstone (for pass/fail) in a formal defense to be conducted no later than the sixth week of the students graduating quarter.


  • Participate in events, talks, and performances by professionals currently involved in cultural, public health, and advocacy programs
  • Interaction with alums working in the field
  • Participate in performance workshops by in-house and guest artists and scholars
  • Engage with a transnational constellation of artists, community leaders, cultural workers using art to strengthen communities
  • Participate in quarterly module meetings to review challenges in project work
  • Attend capstone presentations
  • Attend relevant group trips to local activities, institutions, and productions

Rules and Requirements for Module Completion:

In the second week of the first quarter of the student’s senior year, the student must choose a faculty advisor to oversee the capstone experience. Under the guidance of the faculty advisor, the student will develop a long-term capstone project. In the eighth week of the first quarter, the student, upon consultation with their faculty advisor, will submit a 1 page proposal for the capstone experience to be approved by the advisor and the module coordinator. For module participants who are also Performance Studies Majors, the capstone will double as an Honors Thesis in Performance Studies.

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