Performance Studies

What Is Performance Studies?

Performance studies examines and interrogates both conspicuously staged artistic performances and everyday cultural performances. Artistic performances are performances marked and understood as art: solo performance, performance art, performances of literature, theatrical storytelling, plays, and performance poetry are all examples of this sort of performance. This category considers performance as an art form.

Cultural performances include those events embedded in everyday life in which a culture's values are displayed for their perpetuation: rituals such as parades, religious ceremonies, and community festivals as well as conversational storytelling, performances of social and professional roles, and individual performances of race, gender, sexuality, and class. This category considers performance as a way of studying how people move through the world as individuals, construct identity, and build community together.

Performance Studies is also keenly interested in the intersection between these categories. For instance, one might study the performances of a particular culture and turn that study into a staged performance about that culture. Cultural performances influence the kinds of artistic performances that a culture creates and, in turn, those artistic performances influence cultural performances. Therefore, Performance Studies embraces the creative process of making art as well as the critical process of analyzing performances. Performance Studies first emerged as its own field of study in the last decades of the twentieth century informed by insights from anthropology, sociology, theatre, oral interpretation, communication studies, literary criticism, cultural studies, ethnography, folkloristics, mythological studies, and psychology.

Today, performance scholars contribute to these diverse fields of study. Performance Studies at Kennesaw State University The program in Theatre and Performance Studies here at KSU features performance as an art form, as a field of study, and as a method of inquiry (or a way of knowing) in classes throughout the major. The entire program embraces the idea of performance praxis, embodying theory through performance.

The B.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies degree features several required courses in Performance Studies as well as courses that integrate the scholarship of Theatre Studies and Performance Studies, including:

  • Introduction to Performance Studies
  • Performing Culture
  • Performance Art
  • Performing Literature
  • Performing Folklore and Fairytales
  • Performing Classical Myth
  • Performing World Myth
  • Performing Personal Narrative
  • Adapting and Staging Literary Texts
  • History and Theory I: Ancient through Renaissance Theatre & Performance
  • History and Theory II: Neoclassical through Romantic Theatre & Performance
  • History and Theory III: Victorian through Contemporary Theatre & Performance
  • American Performance Traditions

The program offers a Concentration in Performance Studies, which, in addition to some of the courses above, includes:

  • Performance Composition
  • Dramaturgy
  • Directing
  • Directing Styles
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