Spring 2016 - SA 474 E100

Cultures, Politics, Performance: Conversations with Performance Studies (A) (4)

Class Number: 1991

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 5 – Apr 11, 2016: Tue, 4:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Minimum 72 units including SA 101 or SA 201W.



Anthropological studies of performance as theoretical/methodological framework for analyzing social relations and power in selected historical/cultural contexts. Subjects may include theories of performance and performativity; creativity and experience; cultural performance; ritual; performance as political resistance; performance and everyday life. Ethnographic and historical accounts focused on performance in colonial/neocolonial/postcolonial processes will constitute substantive course content.


This course offers a unique opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary, co-taught senior seminar.   

Performance, as an object of study and a method of critical research and analysis, has increasingly become a way to bridge scholarly inquiry across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Often this happens at the level of writing itself, with many performance studies scholars seeking to foreground the performative dimensions of their own work and to read the work of others in their disciplines through a performative lens. A common set of questions in such approaches revolves around ways of embodied knowing—of thinking and writing through the body. This course, co-taught by performance studies scholars in anthropology and literary studies (who also share interests in theatre and dance), invites students to explore a range of contemporary works in these inter-disciplines that are exemplary of scholars’ sensuous and often practice-based entaglements with the multiple and overlapping worlds they embody, including the scholarly, the artistic, the activist, and the community-engaged. Our specific focus will be on a selection of sensory studies (texts, films, material archives) that interrogate the boundaries between fact and fiction, theory and practice, mind and body, artist-scholars and the diverse audiences they address. Students will also be given an opportunity to develop a final project (independent or collaborative) that may address the concerns of the course through a range of practices, including writing, performances, images, exhibitions, etc.      



  • Seminar participation/facilitation 25%
  • Letters to authors/select literature reviews 25%
  • Final project 50%


In order to complete course assignments, students will be required to conduct independent research outside the classroom. These activities may require travel by vehicle or public transit, as well as on foot.


Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐ S10.04).  Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.



Judith Hamera, Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference and Connection in the             Global City. New York: Palgrave, 2007.

Tobias Hecht, After Life: An Ethnographic Novel. Durham, NC: Duke University Press,             2006.  (available as e-book, SFU Libraries)

Ben Spatz, What a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge. New York: Routledge,             2015.

Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007  (available as e-book, SFU Libraries)

Paul Stoller, Sensuous Scholarship. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. (available as e-book, SFU Libraries)

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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