Fall 2021 – Performance and Performance Studies Graduate Electives


PPS 660S – Between Self and Social World

01 – Karin Shankar; W (9:30 AM – 12:20 PM); HYBRID

3 credits

In this praxis-based course we consider autoethnography as both reflexive art practice and research methodology. Autoethnography engages personal story and experience (“auto”) to express and interpret (“graphy”) cultural and social practices, objects, relations, and encounters (“ethno”). Autoethnographers aim to show “people in the process of figuring out what to do, how to live, and the meaning of their struggles” (Bochner and Ellis, 2006). In this course we will experiment with different modes of making autoethnography, including writing, imaging, collage, movement, film, and embodied performance. Our semester long-practice of reading, reflection, and making from the material of our lives will generate a cross-media dossier of art objects, written texts, and artifacts, offering new ways to interrogate the intersections between self and social life. Writers and artists whose work we will consider include: Trinh T. Minh-ha, D. Soyini Madison, Dwight Conquergood, E. Patrick Johnson, Carrie Mae Weems, Renato Rosaldo, Xandra Ibarra, Mona Hatoum, Andrea Chung, Gloria Anzaldúa, Ana Mendieta, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Norman Denzin, Wu Tsang, Kent Monkman, Narcissister, and others.  

PPS 660S – Performance Across New York

02 – Jenny Romaine; W (6:00 PM – 8:50 PM); HYBRID

3 credits

This class is designed to introduce students to theater and dance companies in New York City performing in a wide range of international styles and traditions. The course is meant to offer students wide knowledge-- across a range of cultures and communities-- of what performance is. We will look at traditional forms as well as contemporary work. Romaine will frame discussions, share examples of work, and introduce theoretical material. Because the content of the class is so broad and so many exquisite practitioners live and work in NYC, most classes will feature lectures and demonstrations by guest artists. We will watch samples from their work, hear about their process and be led in some embodied work of our own. Students will participate in workshops and complete weekly readings and independent projects.  When possible, there may be Field Trips to communities and performances. 

PPS 661S – Queer Circus

01 – Jennifer Miller; Tu (2:00 PM – 4:50 PM); HYBRID

3 credits

In this Queer Circus class we will combine practical circus skills with a study of the historical and theoretical issues involved in the evolving new queer circus movement. Practical skills include, juggling, slack rope walking, object balancing, object puppetry and basic partner acrobatics, and clowning. We will explore performance styles ranging from Judson influenced improvisation and pedestrian movement to clown shtick and the grand circus Ta-Da. We will look at queer performance theory, traditional circus history, history of the sideshow, pageantry, political theater, writings on freaks and otherness, contemporary performance art, and clowning. We will touch on several aspects of show creation as we prepare for an end of semester show. Students will be expected to work on all of the skills offered in the class and to master at least one. Wholehearted participation in both studio work and discussion is expected.  All students will participate in creating a grand final performance.

PPS 661S – Artists' Sustainability

02 – David Thomson; W (9:30 AM – 12:20 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

We have consistently seen that artists are lacking certain skill sets, tools and resources that would empower and strengthen their ability to create work, develop personal stability and envision longevity in a realistic way. How can we approach these issues in a holistic way that addresses the person and well as the artist? This course covers a range of topics that addresses the ability to create a quality of life, share access to resources, and redefine concepts of success. This class is open to artists in all artistic disciplines.  Covered topics include: Healthcare & Personal Wellness, Financial Literacy, Housing & Homeownership, Artist Statements & Mission, Fundraising & Grant writing, Residencies, Time Management, Conflict Resolution, and Principles for building a sustainable life.

PPS 9603 – Performance and Performance Studies Internship Workshop

01 – day/time TBD

3 credits

This course allows Performance and Performance Studies MFA students to work as interns in venues relevant to their studies and career paths. and for the internship to appear on their transcripts. The proposed assignment and a specific program of hours and supervision have to be approved by the Internship Coordinator.

HMS 540E – Poetics of Cinema

02 – Amy Guggenheim; T (2:00 PM – 4:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

In this course we will view films that invent a poetic cinematic vocabulary to represent the strange, unpredictable and counter-intuitive behavior we call reality.  We will also use exercises and creative projects to question and utilize the tools and perspectives of the same event, montage, blurring of memory, reality, past and present, etc. to become familiar with these possibilities in our own work as artists and designers.  Selected works include, Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Cronenberg’s The Fly, Sally Potter’s Orlando, Hiroshi Kurosawa’s Bright Future, Bergman’s Persona, Michael Haneke’s The Time of the Wolf, Claire Denis’ Intruder and Beau Travail, and Wong Kar Wai’s Chung King Express.  Class discussions will also be informed by readings from the Poetics of Cinema, and The Emergence of Cinematic Time.

HMS 540F – Women in International Cinema

02 – Amy Guggenheim; T (6:00 PM – 8:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

This course considers the vision of prominent and pioneering films, with particular attention to the gaze, subjectivity, ambivalence, multiplicity of perspective, identification and disruption, as cinematic vocabulary and subject. We will look at films-- in the works of artists such as Agnes Varda, Lois Weber, Claire Denis, Marguerite Duras and Alain Renais, Julie Taymor, Susanna Bier, Rainer Fassbinder, Wong Kar Wai, Ang Lee and Todd Haynes-- with an emphasis on identity, sexuality and gender.

HMS 540G – Deleuze, Cinema & Beyond

02 – Ethan Spigland; T (2:00 PM – 4:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s thought emerged almost as often in conversation with artists, filmmakers, and writers as in dialogue with other philosophers. This course will explore the intersection between Deleuzian philosophy, cinema, and the visual arts. It will especially focus on the conception of thought and signs elaborated by Deleuze in his books Cinema 1: The Movement Image and Cinema 2: The Time Image. Drawing on the ideas of Henri Bergson, Charles Sanders Pierce, and Friedrich Nietzsche, Deleuze develops a highly original logic of images and a taxonomy of cinematic signs that avoids a linguistic based approaches. Are his ideas relevant for describing innovations in digital and new media? How do the ideas explored in the cinema books relate to other aspects of Deleuze’s thought? Are Deleuze's ideas regarding cinema only applicable to cinema, or are they also pertinent the world itself conceived of as a meta-cinema? We will also read selections from Deleuze’s writings on painting and the arts, especially his work Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation and parts of A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, written in collaboration with Felix Guattari. Deleuze often hoped that the concepts he created would prove useful and inspiring to nonphilosophers and artists, and hopefully you will find ways to apply his ideas in your own work. We will screen numerous excerpts and complete films by a wide range of filmmakers and media artists including Dziga Vertov, Jean Epstein, Alfred Hitchcock, Yasujiro Ozu, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Marguerite Duras, Chantal Akerman, Raul Ruiz, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, among many others. 

HMS 541A – Global Cinema

02 – Amy Guggenheim; T (9:30 AM – 12:20 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

In this course, we will explore visions of iconic contemporary filmmakers from global cinema notable for their innovative cinematic representation of modern life. Through their works, selected for their capability to go beyond national and cultural boundaries, we will examine how the invention of new cinematic language is used evoke poignant insight into human experience, and potentially bear influence on our perceptions of reality. In modules organized by genres, we will develop methods of analysis through in-depth formal and thematic study of several films, extend our investigation in small research projects by students, and based on these studies and integrate theory with practice in applied creative workshops. A guest filmmaker may be invited to hold a post-screening master class with students. Advance viewing of films is expected. Requirements include a midterm essay project and a final creative or theoretical project based on the films from the course.

HMS 590A – Electronic Music Production

02 – Chris Vitale; W (5:00 PM - 7:50 PM) ONLINE
04 – Chris Vitale; F (2:00 PM – 4:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

This course will introduce students to the theoretical and practical tools needed to produce electronic music in a studio environment. Students will learn basics of the physics of sound and music theory, and from there learn about the history and practice of electronic music production. In the process students will learn how to program analog subtractive hardware synthesizers, various forms of digital samplers and synthesizers (FM, additive, wavetable, granular, etc.), learn about modular synthesizers, use modern digital studio recording tools (ie: DAWs including Logic and Ableton, various plugin instruments and effects), how to apply various effects in recording processes (ie: reverbs, delays, compressors), music production tools (ie: sequencers, arpeggiators, chording tools), and basics of audio recording (ie: sound treatment, mic placement, etc.). Mid-term and final projects will allow students to experiment producing small compositions of their own, with a goal of students leaving the course with the tools to be able to compose and grow their own electronic musical practice on their own. 

HMS 592A – Animating Narrative

05 – Ellery Washington; T (2:00 PM – 4:50 PM) ONLINE 

3 credits

With an eye towards short animation, Animating Narrative focuses on the fundamentals of storytelling and how to employ strong narrative elements in visual work. While analyzing and deconstructing archetypal narrative forms, from classical mythologies to modern stories and post-modern hyperrealist tendencies, students will write and workshop their own stories, emphasizing how these stories might translate to a concise visual format.

HMS 602 – Race, Performance, Media

01 – Jayna Brown; M (9:30 AM – 12:20 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

This course explores the way intertwined concepts of race, gender, and sexuality are produced and contested through live performance, film, video, recording, and various internet incarnations. The circulation of images, ideas, memes, music, and iconography will be examined in historical perspective. These media will be considered not only as formations through which dominant cultures reinforce oppressive systems and structures of feeling, but also as formations through which racialized, gendered, and sexualized subjects contest these ideas.

HMS 612 – Future Worlds & Other Science Fictions

01 – Jayna Brown; Tu (9:30 AM - 12:20 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

Science fiction disorients us, unsettling our common sense notions of selfhood, nature, and progress; it can destabilize what we think we know about being human and about life itself. This course examines science fiction literature, film, and other media through the rubric of science studies, with three overlapping areas of exploration: biology, technology, and broader planetary ecologies. Though the focus of the course will be fiction, film, and media, we will use theories coming out of science studies and science fiction studies to analyze the course materials.

HMS 630S – Photography and Social Control

01 – Jon Beller; Th (2:00 PM - 4:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

This course considers the exponential expansion of photographic practices over the last two centuries through the lens of the most recent theoretical writings on photography. For the first few weeks we consider some foundational texts: Talbot, Bazin, Benjamin, Barthes, Sontag, before looking at the post-visual turn writings of Vilem Flusser, Nicole Fleetwood, Simone Browne, Tina Campt, Ariella Azoulay, Kaja Silverman, Jacquelyn Goldsby, Lorna Roth, Lily Cho, Michele Pearson Clarke, Aria Dean and many others. Particular attention will be paid to escalating role of the photographic image (the "technical image") in the political organization of society ranging from the experiential and the psychic to the geopolitical and genocidal. Our study entails a rigorous elaboration of the complex relationship between photography, racialization, imperialism, gender, sexuality, commodification, financialization and the ubiquitous cybernetic interface known as the screen. Final projects: A theoretically informed research paper and/or a photographic project.

HMS 631S – Cryptocurrency, Money and Design

01 – Jon Beller; Th (5:00 PM - 7:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

This class reviews highlights of the history of the emergence of the money form and the social relations which constitute it in order to consider the importance of crytpocurrencies as a new medium. We will analyze existing and conceivably possible cryptocurrencies from the standpoints of both the theoretician/political-economist and the designer. Course keywords include: money, capital, value, production, circulation, representation, attention economy, post-fordism, cognitive capitalism, blockchain, securitization, derivative, colonization, racial capitalism, computational capital. Readings include Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, Robert Miester, Benjamin Lee, Posner and Weyl, Satoshi Nakamoto, Vitalik Buterin, and contemporary publications in Medium, Coindesk, and other venues publishing on crypto. Crypto case studies include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Economic Space Agency (platform cooperative), Sphere (global performance), Smashboard (feminist/anti-patriarchy) and ArtWork (anti-racial-capitalist). Students are strongly encouraged to bring their own interests, knowledge, references and socio-political aspirations regarding this nascent field of endeavor. Final course project can be a theoretical paper or a crypto-economic design project.

HMS 631S – Critical Game Design

02 – Basem Aly; W (5:00 PM - 7:50 PM); IN PERSON

3 credits

This course is designed for highly motivated active learners interested in exploring both the theory and practice of game design. You will rapidly prototype successive iterations of a game as you grapple with overarching ideas about play. Play is a fundamentally human trait manifested in spontaneous creativity, transgressive or appropriative actions, or the suspension of conventional norms. Playfulness is an attitude ideally suited to critical inquiry, while games are rule-based arenas for experimentation and social rituals of all sorts. Students will have ample choice in determining the focus of their classroom experience. You will mix theory and practice, analog and digital, theme and mechanics to your own specifications. No prior experience in game design or programming is necessary, and the extent of your technical, artistic or theoretical focus will be up to you. Ideally you'd be interested in exploring new ground, traveling just beyond your comfort zone, and prepared to have fun. 

Students will develop the ability to design, prototype and critique both digital and analog games through various lenses of critical theory. You will learn to use game design engines like Unity3D to rapidly prototype and play-test each others’ games. Students will deploy theories undergirding procedural rhetoric and playful engagement embodied in games such as enactments of power, fairness, narrative, and simulation. You will be assessed on the basis of your individual progress in learning implementing, and risk-taking as you develop games rooted in your own interests and experience. 

HMS 631S – Mutating Cities

03 – Youmna Chlala & Christoph Kumpusch; Tu (2:00 PM - 4:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

Mutating Cities is a spatial investigation of contemporary cities as sites of exchange. How is the periphery addressed in architecture film, art, performance and literature? How do we understand malleable and transient boundaries? What are the socio-economic and geo-political effects of cultural production? In this course, we will use research, drawing, video, discussion & writing to develop experiential work about historical, contemporary and future mutating cities.

HMS-631S – Black and Asian Solidarities: Feminist Theories and Practices

04 – Mendi Obadike and Minh-Ha Pham; Th (9:30am-12:20pm) ONLINE 

3 credits

This course was conceived as a timely response to two troubling social trends: (1) the spate of (verbal and physical) anti-Asian racist attacks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) the resurgence of the trope of the Black/Asian conflict in the same period. 

The course will provide students a critical framework for understanding how these “current events” are born out of longer histories of racialization—in legal, cultural, and labor/economic arenas—that have constructed Black and Asian people as dialectically opposed. Through weekly assignments and discussions, students will learn how the distinct and complementary racialization of Blackness and Asianness has led to instances of both conflict and coalition. Course materials will draw from a variety of textual and visual sources that take women of color feminist approaches to critical race theory and legal studies, African American studies, Asian American studies, comparative ethnic studies, cultural studies, and arts.

HMS 640S – Psychoanalysis and Film

02 – Chris Vitale; Th (5:00 PM -7:50 PM) ONLINE

3 credits

This course will examine the ways in which psychoanalysis has been used to study the moving image. Starting with the work of Freud and the origins of psychoanalysis, the course will start by examining the modes of interpretation which psychoanalysis brings to bear upon therapeutic situations, literature, dreams, and more. From here the course will move to those who built upon Freud's legacy, and increasingly applied to these notions to the study of visual phenomenon in film and beyond. In the process we will work to understand the ways in which psychoanalysis changed throughout the century, how it became because appropriated by various thinkers and activists who sought to understand the ways in which film can be symptomatic of various individual and social anxieties, and how psychoanalytic tools can help dissect structures of power which intertwine with our seemingly infinite desire to consume moving images, even as these change in relation to the virtualities of the digital age. From film as fetish to mirror, screen of identifications to mechanism of defense, from seduction to repulsion, striptease to ob/scene, male gaze to oppositional gaze, desire in terms of sex, gender, sexuality, race, and beyond, from the "object a" to "desert of the Real," this course will work to problematize how and why we are drawn to produce and consume images. Theorists whose ideas will be studied include Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek, Laura Mulvey, Carol Clover, bell hooks, and more, with films by Robert Wiene, Luis Bunuel, Michael Powell, Alfred Hitchcock, Wes Craven, Pedro Almodovar, etc. 

HMS 640S – Gender & Society in Japanese Cinema

03 – Ethan Spigland; T (5:00 PM – 7:50 PM); ONLINE
04 – Ethan Spigland; W (5:00 PM – 7:50 PM); ONLINE 

3 credits

new Japanese New Wave is currently taking the world by storm. With the international success of such directors as Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters), Sion Sono (Cold Fish; Noriko’s Dinner Table), and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Tokyo Sonata, Charisma), interest in Japanese cinema is at an all-time high. However, these directors did not emerge from a vacuum, but from a long and rich film tradition. This screening class will present a historical survey of the major trends in Japanese cinema from the twenties to the late seventies. We will study and view classic works by such acknowledged masters as Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, and Kenji Mizoguchi, but also groundbreaking films by lesser known directors. Special attention will be given to the Japanese New Wave and Underground films of the sixties and seventies, made by such directors as Yasuzo Masumura, Shuji Terayama, Nagisa Oshima, and Shohei Imamura. We will also introduce and discuss such popular and cult genres as “pink”, “yakuza”, “violent” and “monster” films. These films represent a fascinating alternate history of Japanese cinema, one that’s missing from most official accounts. Beyond merely undertaking a formal analysis of works by great “auteurs,” we will examine the social, economic, political, and cultural contexts in which these films were made. There will be a special emphasis on portrayals of race and gender in Japanese cinema and media.