CRITICAL THINKING IN PERFORMANCE - 2020/1

Module code: THE2034

Module Overview

This module introduces students to a range of core theoretical frameworks and research methodologies and methods used in theatre and performance research. Theories indicatively include areas such as semiotics, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, cultural materialism, postcolonial and critical race theory, poststructuralism, posthumanism and animal studies, new materialism. Methodologies and methods indicatively include areas such as practice as research, theatre history, archival research, performance analysis and interviews and ethnographic approaches.

 

As a whole, the module aims to develop the students’ sense of themselves as independent researchers and encourages students to consider the context for their research in terms of joining “contemporary conversations” in the field. It aims to prepare them for their final year study, particularly the dissertation, and for study, research and critical investigation beyond the degree.

 

The first part of the module focuses on introducing, exploring and applying 20th and 21st-century theory to analyses of contemporary theatre and performance. It pays special attention to recurrent issues in theatre and performance studies, bringing together two closely related components: critical thinking and performance analysis. The module traverses a broad range of theorists and theoretical perspectives as means of understanding theatre and performance from contrasting, opposing, or compatible perspectives.

 

The second part of the module focuses on introduces students to a range of core research methodologies and methods used in theatre and performance research. It addresses issues relating to diverse approaches to the production of knowledge, but also provides students with practical and critical skills associated with particular methods of doing performance research.

Module provider

Guildford School of Acting

Module Leader

ALSTON Adam (GSA)

Number of Credits: 30

ECTS Credits: 15

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: W440

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

N/A

Module content

The module will introduce a broad range of theoretical perspectives, methodologies and methods in theatre and performance research, providing students with a ‘tool box’ of critical frameworks and approaches for effective and rigorous theatre and performance research. The module reviews “contemporary conversations” in theatre and performance research today - introducing students to the core theoretical ideas that underpin them and the diverse, creative ‘ways of knowing’ operating in the field.

 

The first part of the module focuses on theories for performance research. Each class will focus broadly on one theorist, philosophy or theoretical perspective at a time in relation to a case study, or set of case studies. Students will be encouraged to draw on their own experiences of attending theatre or experiencing performance and to use these as materials for discussion in seminars, presentations and in assessment. Students will learn how to apply key concepts from ‘theory’ and philosophy in order to analyse examples of performance. However, they will also be encouraged to explore the relationship between theory and practice beyond application.

 

The module looks at the key concepts underpinning the theory and the ways in which these ideas have been advanced in theatre and performance both in theory and practice. The module addresses a series of issues raised by these theories, which may include: identity (gender, race, sexuality, class), relationship between mind/body, meaning/feeling, language/experience, and the ethics and politics of performance in relation to oppression and inequality. Indicative theoretical perspectives include, but are not limited to: semiotics (Saussure, Peirce, Barthes, Pavis, Fischer-Lichte); phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, States, Garner); psychoanalysis (Freud, Lacan, Žižek, Phelan); feminism and gender studies (de Beauvoir, Butler, Aston, hooks, Ahmed); postcolonial and critical race theory (Saïd, Bhabha, Fanon, Spivak, Crenshaw); cultural materialism and Marxist perspectives (Rancière, Williams, Ridout); posthumanism, animal studies and new materialism (Singer, Haraway, Despret, Barad, Bennett).

 

The second part of the module focuses on research methods and methodologies - evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of particular research methods. Students will be introduced to a wide range of approaches to doing research into theatre and performance indicatively including: practice as research, theatre history, archival research, performance analysis, conducting interviews with practitioners, doing ‘fieldwork’ and other broadly ethnographic approaches. Classes will engage students in reflection and debate on the particular issues that theatre and performance raise for the researcher, including in terms of liveness, ephemerality, documentation, collaboration, and audience participation. The module concludes with some specific classes dedicated to supporting students to prepare for their final year Dissertation projects.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY 1 (2500 WORDS) 50
Coursework ESSAY 2 (2500 WORDS) 50

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to work toward the following learning outcomes:

 

Identify and apply theoretical and methodological positions, trends and innovations in critical thinking

Engage creatively and critically with a range of theoretical perspectives, potentially including interdisciplinary perspectives

Retrieve, sift and synthesise information from a range of sources

Develop and evaluate ideas and arguments through writing, presentation and informed, disciplined debate

Productively analyse and organize existing academic arguments in ways that further their critical development

Compile and summarize a diverse body of research pertinent to a specific field of enquiry within theatre and performance studies

Articulate an academic argument in a clear and structured manner relevant to the field.

 

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of two academic essays to enable students to demonstrate all of the above. The placing of these 2, 50% assessment at the end of each term of the module allows the students to engage with the majority of the content for each term of the module before selecting the focus for their own piece of individual research. Further support for the final assessments will either be provided through group essay workshops, one-to-one or small group tutorials, or feedback on draft essay plan - depending on the module tutor.

 

The essays require students to select a theoretical perspective or methodological paradigm from a range of options, and to utilize this paradigm in the analysis of a case study of their choosing. It further requires students to present that analysis in a clear and cohesive fashion, building to a well-founded and well-presented argument. In the first essay, students will be asked for focus on a theoretical perspective; whereas in the second essay, they will be asked to address a methodological paradigm or issue.

 

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical ideas and methodological approaches, informed by an appropriate level of scholarship; engage theoretical and philosophical perspectives in performance analysis as a means of interrogating and understanding theatre and performance; achieve a decent level of argumentation and rigour; identify developments in theory and methodology and to demonstrate effective analysis of those developments; articulate fairly complex thought processes clearly and concisely.

 

Formative assessment

 

Formative assignments - weekly in-class group presentations focussed on a response to the set readings followed by student-led discussion - are geared towards preparing students for the summative essays in both terms. The presentations will provide an opportunity for the module tutor to provide oral feedback which will take into account: knowledge and understanding of theory and/or method; appropriate engagement of theoretical perspective or methodological approach in performance research; clarity of argument and critical perspective. Students will be required to provide a bibliography to accompany their presentation in order to allow the tutor to provide feedback on appropriate sources and satisfactory referencing.

Module aims

  • Provide core knowledge of key theorists and methodologies.
  • Explore effective uses of theory in theatre and performance analysis.
  • Enable students to use informed and relevant critical vocabularies and research methods.
  • Nurture understanding of diverse, competing and compatible critical perspectives.
  • Facilitate productive and informed reflection on existing research in the field.
  • Introduce key stages in the formation of academic research and prepare students for research in their final year, particularly, their Dissertation.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify and apply theoretical and methodological positions, trends and innovations in critical thinking. CK
002 Engage creatively and critically with a range of theoretical perspectives, potentially including interdisciplinary perspectives. CK
003 Retrieve, sift and synthesise information from a range of sources. PT
004 Develop and evaluate ideas and arguments through writing, presentation and informed, disciplined debate. PT
005 Productively analyse and organize existing academic arguments in ways that further their critical development. CKPT
006 Compile and summarize a diverse body of research pertinent to a specific field of enquiry within theatre and performance studies. PT
007 Articulate an academic argument in a clear and structured manner relevant to the field. CPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 260

Lecture Hours: 40

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

 

Enhance knowledge and understanding of core theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches;

Foster critical thinking and analytical skills (particularly with regards to theatre and performance analysis), as well as evaluative skills;

Enhance confidence and the ability to articulate ideas clearly and effectively;

Promote supportive spaces for deliberation, contestation and debate;

Enhance cognitive skill in the application of theory as an analytical tool and the use of research methods.

Prepare students to locate themselves as independent researchers within an existing academic field.

Indicative learning and teaching methods include: lecture/seminars, workshops, field trips, peer-to-peer learning, debates and independent research and reflection. Classes are likely to include: taught material, review of reading (and debate of the merits of existing published research); practical writing or group discussion workshops to allow students to develop their own arguments; and more skills-oriented workshop sessions to introduce key methods and approaches.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for CRITICAL THINKING IN PERFORMANCE : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/the2034

Other information

Under the three term structure that commences from academic year 2019/0 – this module’s delivery is year-long due to the teaching occurring in Teaching Blocks 1 and 2.

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.