The Theater of Everyday Life

Sketch for a Course in Performance Studies by Clyde Smith (circa 1999)

A course for advanced undergraduates across disciplines. Primary text will be Marvin Carlson’s Performance: a critical introduction. Student assignments will include an ethnographic project and a final performance project.

Major Themes and Readings:

The Performance of Everyday Life

We will discuss the implications of perceiving daily life as a performance. We will also consider more generally the use of the term performance in the social sciences.

Readings from: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life – Erving Goffman,
Verbal Art as Performance – Richard Bauman, TDR/Drama Review – journal.

Performance Art

The impulse to loosen the boundaries between art and everyday life will be the focus of our discussion. We will consider both visual artists’ exploration of performance and performing artists’ moves from the stage to the streets .

Readings from: High Performance – magazine, The Amazing Decade – Moira Roth,
Street Theatre and Other Outdoor Performance – Bim Mason.

Performing Gender

We will explore the notion of gender as a performance and the performativity of gender in both theater and daily life.

Readings from: Gender Trouble – Judith Butler, How To Do Things with Words –
John Austin, Acting Out: Feminist Performances – Lynda Hart & Peggy Phelan, Eds.

The Performance of Power

We will consider power, performance and pedagogy with a special look at the teacher’s research on power relations in the dance classroom.

Readings from: Asylums – Erving Goffman, Discipline and Punish – Michel Foucault, “The Conservatory as a Greedy Total Institution” – Clyde F. Smith.