Movement and Meaning: Dance in a Global Context


This course introduces students to various approaches to studying dance in a humanities context. We will explore how people create meaning through dance and how dance, in turn, influences social norms, political institutions, aesthetic ideals and cultural practices. As we compare dance forms across the globe, we will also examine issues of race, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, analyzing how dance literally embodies identity. At the same time, we will discover how contemporary unequal power hierarchies bear on our designation of some dance forms as "Western" and others as "world" or "ethnic." Tensions around assessment of authenticity/creativity, adaptation/appropriation, agency/resistance, and cultural hierarchies such as vernacular/modern, shift with social and political hegemony and with the individual's position as insider or outsider relative to ethnic self-identification and traditional forms of expression. The first part of the course introduces the student to different methodological approaches to studying dance. Throughout the semester, the usual process of the course will be discussion of assigned reading and viewing and analyzing together dance videos shown in class. A few dance workshops will be included (for which no previous dance training is necessary). Required work includes a few short assignments, a take-home mid-term exam, a project on a topic of your choice but related to course focus, a 20 minute presentation of your project/paper, and a final take-home exam.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM; FA CPSC