This course takes as its starting point the vexing questions of history, memory, and identity that activists, scholars, artists, and others have posed in recent years: what is to be done with the commemorative landscape of monuments and memorials? How do we account for the silences and erasures in archival records? How should histories of racial violence be commemorated? These are questions that have been taken up in many arenas of public life, including public art, tourism, museum studies, and urban planning. They have also been taken up by theater artists and performance artists who use their bodies, narrative, historical fact and (sometimes) fiction to bear witness to the past and to imagine new futures. In this course, we will examine the role of theater and performance in constituting-and challenging-the historically contingent meanings of race; we will also explore how performances of history shape national narratives. Artists whose work will be explored might include Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Dread Scott, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Simone Leigh, and Heidi Schreck. Artistic and/or performance experience is not required. Graduate students and undergraduate students are welcome in this course. Students will have the opportunity to propose their own commemorative projects; together we will explore whether and how performances of the past can do a certain kind of reparative work necessary for a more equitable future.
Course Attributes: BU Eth; BU BA; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SC; FA VC