Special studies designed to address contemporary and historical concerns in the field of dance.
This course offers students theoretical and practical experience in dance and performance ethnography, ethnology, and oral history. While the primary focus will be on dance, methods and theories discussed will also be applicable to other physical practices such as music, theatre, sports, and performance art. Students will be introduced to theories and methods of ethnographic fieldwork, ethnographic writing, and ethnologic analysis. We will contextualize our work within the history of dance anthropology and dance cultural studies, engaging with current debates and problems in both fields. Students should expect to: gain experience with ethnographic methods; question their own position in the history of ethnographic study; deepen their observational, descriptive, and analytical skills of dance; and develop tools for explaining the social and political fabric in which physical practices are situated.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Classtime will focus on discussion of readings and students' own fieldwork.
At least one course in dance history/theory or in social anthropology is recommended as preparation for this course. No prior experience in dance required, but a willingess to participate in dance events is a must.
Class assignments and grading
All students will be expected to complete three short ethnographic studies in three different settings (formal class, social dance, and sacred/ritual dance). In addition to writing fieldnotes for each ethnographic assignment, students will present the results of one of their research studies to the class in an oral presentation/performance. Students will also complete a final paper based on more in-depth ethnographic research in one community.
Grades will be based on class participation, writing assignments based on the reading, written ethnographic notes based on students' fieldwork, an oral presentation/performance in class, and a final project.