Aesthetics of Resistance: Experimentation and Creative Protest in Avantgarde Theater and Performance Art




This course seeks to address the most crucial shifts and transformations that theater and performance practices have undergone since the advent of the literary and artistic avantgarde movements at the end of the 19th century. Through the study of examples from across Europe and the United States, we will examine phenomena such as the declining importance of “word theater” and the pre-scripted theatrical text; the éclatement of a clearly demarcated performance space and the proliferation of performance as an art form in its own right (whether in the public sphere, or elsewhere); the innovation of stage design and the significance of new media; various re[1]conceptualizations of acting techniques and the prioritization of the performer’s corporeality; the mobilization of avant-gardist theater and performance art for revolutionary political aims, agitation, and collective action against cultural hegemonies and oppressive state power. We will thus investigate how avantgarde theater and performance art engage with the political and societal conflicts of their time, and how their radical aesthetics have proven conducive to the channeling of creative protest and resistance. To ground our thought process throughout the semester, we will draw on artists, works, and performances from, amongst others: Futurism, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Epic Theater, Fluxus, Postdramatic Theater, Body Art, Feminist Performance Art, or Radical Contemporary Performance. Readings and discussions will be in English.
Additional Information:
Faculty: Nadine Schwakopf
Semester: Full Spring Term
Time: Tuesday, 12:45 - 2:45 pm