HISTART 393-008

Undergraduate Seminar
Performance and Its Archives

T Th 2:30pm-4:00pm
3 Credit Seminar

Performance exists in and outside of documented history, national divisions, linguistic expression, and lived experience. It is temporally fixed and unfixed in time, as live action lives on in the aftermath of the act. This course introduces students to major episodes and theories in past and present studies of performance art. As a field, it must negotiate history as a fixed or always imminent concept due to its reliance on, and critical engagement with, oral accounts, complete or fragmented photographic evidence, writings, recordings, and reperformances. Approaching the body as an expressive and artistic medium, alongside seemingly fixed and self-evident resources like the image, will encourage ways of rethinking visual aesthetics in the modern and contemporary moment. Topics in course include ongoing inquiries into form and content, the politics of identity (gender, nationality, race, positionality), and historicity as a generative problematic in the study of performance as a broad-ranging, interdisciplinary, and global phenomenon that is contingent upon living expressions. The majority of course material will engage art production since 1960 and address emerging and established professional culture workers in multiple art worlds. Some of the questions we will routinely return to includes how one approaches historicizing live art through the static dimensions of writing and/or new technologies, and how conceptions of archives, whether ephemera or seemingly permanent, impacts performance art discourse.

Textbooks/Course Materials: Catherine Wood, Performance in Contemporary Art. London: Tate Publishing, 2022.
Amelia Jones, and Adrian Heathfield, Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. (Available Online: https://ebookcentral-proquestcom.proxy.lib.umich.edu/lib/umichigan/detail.action?docID=1719541)

Intended Audience: Undergraduate students

Course Requirements: Participation (50%)
Assignments 50%: Annotated Bibliography (40%) & Exhibition or Event Review (10%)

HISTART Distribution Requirements: Europe and the US, E. Latin America, Modern and Contemporary; Transhistorical.