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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laurie J Sears
HIST 468
Seattle Campus

Theatre as a Site of History and Memory

Explores Asian theatre traditions as sites of memory, testimony, and archive using ethnographic and historiographical approaches. Includes service-learning components and collaborative performance projects. Offered: jointly with JSIS B 468; Sp.

Class description

This course will investigate Mahabharata stories, Vietnamese stories, Cambodian dance, Indonesian shadow theater, and Asian American theater traditions as sites of memory, testimony, and archive. We will be looking at the way that performance traditions change as they become transnational and diasporic. We will explore how these different traditions create textual communities and identities. Focusing on story-telling, oral tradition, and cultural memories, the course will explore the encoding and transmission of knowledge in theatrical traditions. Through an interdisciplinary approach combining oral history work, performance production, and historiographical methods, the class will move from theatrical arts to sites of memory like Seattle's Asian communities to see how text, artifact, and site police the borders of identity and tradition.

Student learning goals

Learn familiarity with Asian performance traditions.

Take an interdisciplinary approach to Asian performance traditions.

Learn how to think critically about theater and performance as sites of memory.

Work with others collaboratively.

Learn how to collect and transcribe and perform oral testimonies.

General method of instruction

The class will alternate between lecture/discussion and interactive performance and pedagogy exercises. Students will carry out oral interviews with community or family members. Students will then work in groups to combine the stories they have gathered and to create their own versions of Asian-inspired performance traditions and stories.

Recommended preparation

An open mind. Interest in Asian performance traditions. Some prior knowledge of Asia will be useful but not required. Interest in theater and performance traditions is useful but not required. Those who want to start reading, we will be discussing Tale of Kieu first.

Class assignments and grading

Read assigned readings. Gather oral histories, transcribe them, and write short reflection papers. Collaborative performance project. Final short paper.

Grades are assigned based on seriousness and commitment to class activities and assignments. Successful completion and comprehension of assigned readings. Willingness to work in a collegial manner in groups. Ability to become knowledgeable about one Asian performance tradition in your final short paper and group project.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Laurie J Sears
Date: 02/26/2013