Spring 2022 - CA 217 D100

Introduction to Performance Studies (3)

Class Number: 7842

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    GCA 4390, GOLDCORP

  • Instructor:

    Peter Dickinson
    1 604 908-0993
    Office: GCA 3855
    Office Hours: By appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including one history/theory course within the School for the Contemporary Arts.



Traces the interdisciplinary origins of performance studies and brings its concepts and methods to bear on dance, music, theatre, performance art, and media performance. Students with credit for CA (or FPA) 311 under this topic may not take this course for further credit. Students with credit for CA (or FPA) 317 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of performance studies, a practice-based mode of inquiry that takes performance as both an object of study and a method of analysis. That is, we will examine the creative content and (inter)cultural contexts of a range of “framed” performances (from theatre, dance, music, film, visual art, and beyond); but we will also look at different social and political events, everyday enactments, and expressive behaviours as performances. Applying foundational readings in performance theory to a broad spectrum of issues, artists, works, and sites, students will also be invited through their assignments and in-class discussions and activities to put into practice many of performance studies’ key methodologies, including: ethnographic observation and fieldwork; performance spectatorship and analysis; documentation and reenactment; and research-creation.


  • To understand the ways performance contributes to and is constitutive of culture.
  • To read and write about core concepts, methods, and theories from the discipline of performance studies.
  • To observe, attend, analyze, and interpret a range of aesthetic and social performances.
  • To apply performance principles and techniques as a means of research investigation and knowledge creation.
  • To develop a focused topic of performance research that combines written and performative elements.


  • Attendance and active participation 10%
  • Reading quizzes 15%
  • Performance presentation on syllabus topic 20%
  • Performance journal 25%
  • Final project, including proposal 30%



All readings will be posted to Canvas as PDF documents. Links to relevant video and audio materials will be included in the course syllabus.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.