Selves and Others: Representation and Performance
Fall 2015, Winter 2016 and Spring 2016 quarters
Writers, performers, and scholars of social behavior all engage with deep inquiries into what it's like to be a person, what it means to live within a society that made us and yet feels separate from us, and how we shape our lives despite the difficulty of ascertaining purpose or meaning.
In this program, we'll examine the cultural norms that shape our notions of selfhood and the forces that compel individuals to construct their identities and their bodies in relation to society and ideologies. We won't simply valorize the heroic individual as the victim of an oppressive, alienating society. We'll look for positive potential in relationships between individuals and groups. We'll do this through specific disciplinary perspectives and by synthesizing new ideas across three disciplines: improvisational performance, sociology, and literature.
For us, improvisational theater will open up the imaginative play of everyday life and offer models for complex collaborations. Sociological insights into behavior will focus on individual agency, social expectations, and institutional power structures. Literary explorations of selfhood can lead us to profound skepticism but also toward the value of forming communities of writers and readers. These and other inquiries will inform our collective conversation, student research, and collaborative creative efforts.
Readings will include sociological studies and theoretical texts, a selection of 20th-century literature and theory, and texts on improvisational performance. Research, creative writing, and critical essay projects will challenge students to develop their own inquiries in relation to program themes.
We'll spend the first half of the year learning fundamental skills and concepts of sociology, literature, and improvisational theater through lectures, workshops, seminars, fieldwork exercises, and individual and collaborative projects. Beginning in winter, students will develop major projects integrating what they've learned in all three disciplines, including sociological research and creative writing, culminating in the development of collaborative performance pieces in spring quarter.
This program is not preparatory for studies of or careers in psychology or counseling, nor is it designed as a forum for emotional growth or personal discovery. Rather, we will examine disciplinary perspectives on the idea of the individual in order to understand the makeup and features of the social being.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day