New, Revised, and Special Topics Courses (Spring 2020)

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Laughter (PMA 1700)

Instructors: David Feldshuh and Sara Warner

Course Time: M/W 10:10 a.m.–12:05 p.m.

What makes us laugh, and what doesn't? How does laughter vary from person to person, place to place, and across time? What work does laughter perform? Is it contagious? What does it mean to have (or lack) a sense of humor? What is laughter's relationship to pleasure and pain, health and wellness? In this course, we will experiment with the art of "making funny." Students will explore the science and psychology of humor, construct laughter through language and the body, analyze jokes (to learn how to tell them), and investigate the role of humor in a democratic society.

(History, Theory, Criticism or Embodied Performance rubric)

Death and Desire: Vampires on Stage and Screen (PMA 2620)

Instructor: Aoise Stratford

Course Time: T/R 10:10 a.m.–11:25 a.m.

This 2000 level multi-disciplinary course hunts the dangerous and subversive figure of the vampire across a variety of pages, stages, and screens. We’ll explore a campy melodrama from the 19th century, a sensual ballet, a raucous stage comedy, cinema classics, politically savvy television—and all the Draculas that have come and gone in between. Drawing on theatre, film, television, and dance, we’ll ask how the vampire articulates Otherness and how it is constructed, appropriated, adapted, reinvented, performed, and, of course, consumed in its many different…lives.

(History, Theory, Criticism rubric)

Explorations in Creative Collaboration (PMA 2805)

Instructor: Carolyn Goelzer

Course Time: T/R 2:30 p.m.–4:25 p.m.

This course provides opportunities for students to develop and present original performance work as part of a creative, vibrant classroom ensemble. Together we will study individual artists and companies who have devised innovative performance work across a range of disciplines. Through structured class exercises and improvisation, students will devise collaborative performance material in one-minute, two-minute, five-minute, and ten-minute formats that responds to a range of prompts from musical, visual, media, literary, and movement sources. Come join the fun!

(Embodied Performance or Creative Authorship rubric)

Border Crossings: Dance and the Politics of Migration (PMA 3228)

Instructor: Jumay Chu

Course time: M/W 11:40 a.m.–12:55 p.m.

This course explores our world, tragically divided and torn apart by walls of exclusion. How far are people free, with the right to choose where they belong and to take up the traditions of other cultures? What are the political and moral grounds dividing citizenship and statelessness? Art creates frames: the edge of the canvas, the boundaries of the performing space; but rather than restrictive, they are forms of inclusion, making communities across time and space. In dance, we identify ourselves by seeking recognition and recognizing one another. By studying such examples of intercultural exchange as hip hop, circle dance, the Dabkeh, we explore the power of dance to negotiate questions of personhood, authenticity, appropriation—transgressing and transcending, reframing the politics of identity and mobility.   

(History, Theory, Criticism rubric)

Parody (PMA 3740)

Instructor: Nick Salvato

Course Time: M/W 2:55 p.m.–4:10 p.m.

In A Theory of Parody, Linda Hutcheon defines parody broadly as "repetition with critical difference, which marks difference rather than similarity." Taking a cue from Hutcheon, we will consider parody as a form of meaning making that is not necessarily used in the service of ridicule. Rather, we will examine a number of late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century imitative works in order to distinguish the rich variety of political agendas and aesthetic rationales for recent parody. An emphasis on postmodern or contemporary performances and media that renovate images, ideas, and icons from modernism and modernity will unite our otherwise diverse efforts. Some of these efforts will also highlight what happens when an artist takes up a work made for one platform (for example, theatre, performance art, installation, cinema, television, the Web) and parodies it in another.

(History, Theory, Criticism rubric)

Staging Gay and Transgender Histories (PMA 3755/6755)

Instructor: Sara Warner

Course Time: M/W 2:55 p.m.–4:10 p.m.

How have movements for sexual liberation used performance as a means of self-expression and strategies for social justice? How have theatrical stages served as sites of queer sociality and crucibles of invention, where history is made and remade by social actors?

(History, Theory, Criticism rubric)

On the Fringe: New Plays in Development (PMA 3865)

Instructor: Bruce Levitt

Course Time: W 1:25 p.m.–4:20 p.m.

This class replicates the laboratory approach to new plays through text analysis, readings, and interactions with the authors of unproduced work. Authors who agree to participate with the class will submit plays for study and script-in-hand readings. Authors will be included in discussions of the work either in-residence or via ZOOM and other Internet tools.

(History, Theory, Criticism rubric)

Special Topics in Cinema and Media Theory: Love Hurts (PMA 4501)

Instructor: Veronica Fitzpatrick

Course Time: W 12:20 p.m.–2:15 p.m.

The widespread popularity, profitability, and critical derision of mainstream romance media, from ABC’s prolific The Bachelor franchise, to the film adaptations of Twilight (and fan-fiction counterpart Fifty Shades of Grey), affirms masochism—the enjoyment of what is painful—as a key subject for media studies. This course will pair popular film and television romance texts with theoretical work that examines intersections of pain, personhood, and performance, including Antonin Artaud, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Elaine Scarry, Sara Ahmed, and Lauren Berlant. We’ll survey the critical lenses media studies offers for the contemplation of historically derided objects, from genre studies (melodrama), to platform analyses (reality TV and soap), to critical theory (including queer and affect-based approaches), working to historicize and defamiliarize contemporary mediations of intimacy and identity. 

(History, Theory, Criticism rubric)

Absurdism: Performance and The Uncanny (PMA 4661)

Instructor: Beth F. Milles

Course Time: M/W 2:30 p.m.–4:25 p.m.

This is a creation class with a historical context-an investigation of the origins and applications of the term absurdism. In this class, students will survey and generate weekly performances to interrogate the roots, definitions, and contemporary resonance of absurdism. How and why would we stage the impossible? How and why could we renew the term for the 21st century—does a post-historical, post-apocalypse (and politically charged) world necessitate a new approach? In this class, we will examine and perform the works of writers/poets/activists and creators including Samuel Beckett, Sarah Ruhl, Taylor Mac, Eugene Ionesco, Suzan Lori Parks, and Sarah DeLappe. Additionally, we will consider the pathos of silent film, the evolution of immersive performance (the advent of interactive entertainment), and the influence and inheritance of The Uncanny by Sigmund Freud and The Creative Mind by Henri Bergson.

(Creative Authorship rubric)

Shakespeare in (Con)text (PMA 4675, English 4210, Visual Studies 4546J)

Instructor: Bruce Levitt

Course Time: R 10:10 a.m.–12:05 p.m.

Along with developing your critical thinking and writing skills, the primary purpose of this course is to introduce you to Shakespearean drama so you may find it enjoyable as well as challenging and stimulating. 

Engaging with major plays and considering various traditional and modern approaches to them, we will examine how the texts reflect the social, political, and literary inspirations for Shakespeare’s plays and how those elements are embedded in the texts and must be recognized in production. Other topics to be addressed include the complexity of characters’ motivation, subtext, and changing assumptions that audiences and readers bring to the plays over time influence interpretation.   

Students will examine how collaboration among stage directors, designers, and actors leads to differing interpretations of the plays. Students will gain an appreciation of how the texts themselves are blueprints for productions, with particular emphasis on the choices available to the actor inherent in the text. Students will explore Shakespeare’s ability to express the deepest and most complex feelings and concerns of human beings as individuals, as family members, and as members of society: the individual’s place in the universe, in relation to others, and in relation to the socio-political system that he or she inhabits. They will also learn how his plays are constructed in different ways to serve different purposes.

(History, Theory, Criticism rubric)