¶ I’ve just got back from a two-week stint at Harvard with the Mellon Summer School for Theatre and Performance Research. The theme was “What’s Get Performed? The Life of the Dramatic Repertoire,” which seems especially exigent now in the wake of more racially-motivated violence and the SCOTUS ruling in the last week. One of the big take-aways for me that that how we teach Humanities subjects like theatre, what we assign in our syllabi, is as much a form of canon creation and affirmation of our core cultural investments as any other factor in the higher education marketplace. Motivated by a thoughtful staging of Othello here at UIUC this weekend, here are some performance-oriented resources to consider when you start to revamp your course materials in the next month.
¶ #FergusonSyllabus: This is the most developed set of resources in an organized campaign to get the public and educators informed with the tools to approach the subjugation and policing of Black bodies and culture in the US today. Most immediately important is American Theatre’s The Ferguson Theatre Syllabus, complete with suggested reading, photos, and rationales specific to drama . Consider also Dr. Faedra C. Carpenter’s theatre syllabus, “The Color of Sex: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Performance,” with a lens on the social scripts inculturated through gendered norms. The Ferguson Moment is a compelling primary source for artist responses to racially-motivated violence, including similar resources and a possible subject for group projects.
¶ #CharlestonSyllabus: In the wake of last week, a number of similar online resources have begin appearing as well. Start with African American Intellectual History Society’s (AAIHS) thorough and thoughtful list of sources organized by type and use in the classroom, in which there is a lot of cross-over that relates to Ferguson.While not fully formalized, keep an eye on The Charleston Project for a more formalized set of resources. It is really a great example of crowd-sourcing at its best, curating specialized knowledge to immediate impact.
¶ More Generally: The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) has begun a forum for Theatre and Social Change Syllabi in which members can share the ways in which they use theatre to make contact with these issues. A few are already up on the site. As always, @ProfHacker is a great place to go to get ideas for revising and rethinking syllabi, such as this creative example to teaching “The Outsider.” Perhaps most fun and human of the resources is this post by historian Dr. T. J. Tallie on structural racism in the US.