Courses

One of the central goals of the Institute is to create new knowledge and to inform new ways of thinking about knowledge. The Institute hosts team-taught seminars that combine the face-to-face quality of traditional classrooms with online collaboration, enabling students throughout the Americas to communicate and work together online. The areas of research developed by the Institute for these courses follow a chronological and thematic sequence, exploring shared topics in the historical trajectory of the Americas in the last five centuries: Conquest, Colonialism, Nationalism and Globalization. The Institute has offered related courses in Trauma, Memory and Performance; Performance and Activism; Latin American Theater and Performance; Performance and/of Indigeneity; and Theories of Spectatorship, among others. We also offer an annual summer course in Lima, taught by major scholars in the field, and co-taught by Peru’s foremost theatre collective, Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, which is open to students from member universities. Students can take the course for credit as an Independent Study at their home institution.


chiapas-2015-img-270x175Summer 2015: Art, Migration, and Human Rights

The crisis around migration in the Americas has reached epic proportions. This course, "Art, Migration, & Human Rights," will explore the violence resulting from dictatorships, neoliberalism, and trafficking of drugs and humans, which has led to an increase both in migration and in the violence that migration itself produces. Taking place in Chiapas, Mexico, the course will introduce participants to the various groups that intervene in the crisis: the Zapatistas, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, human rights activists, scholars, artists, and others who try to bring international attention to the situation and help mitigate the violence. In addition to interacting with local artists and activists, the course will examine current scholarship that explores the history, politics, and potential outcomes of the current situation. Jesusa Rodríguez will lead an intensive performance-activist workshop as part of the course, which will culminate in a collective project that brings together scholarship, art, and activism on these urgent topics.




sp11_theories_spectatorshipSpring 2015: Mobilizing Memory

This course explores the politics of cultural memory in the aftermath of the atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries. Theories of memory, trauma, performance and activism emerging from work on the Holocaust, the dictatorships and neo-liberal violence in Latin America and the post 9/11 US will inform our analysis of photography, multi-media art works, testimony projects and performances, as well as museums, memorials, and street actions. We will ask what role the arts play in combatting the erasure of past violence from current memory and in creating new political visions and new histories for future generations. And we will look particularly at the role of gender and social difference on the workings of power and resistance. At the same time, we will probe the limits of comparative, multi-directional and connective approaches to memory politics and political action.




sp11_theories_spectatorshipSpring 2015: Theories of Spectatorship

This course explores the many ways in which theorists and theatre practitioners have thought about the ways in which staged action (whether in film, theatre, or politics) pacifies, activates, interpolates, and manipulates viewers. We will explore concepts such as identification, voyeurism, narcissism, bearing witness, percepticide, spect-actor, and others.




summer2013_270pxSummer 2013: Art and Resistance

This course explores the many ways in which artists and activists use art (performance, mural paintings, graffiti, writing, music) to make a social intervention in the Americas. We begin the course by examining several theories about art and activism (Brecht, Boal, Buenaventura, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Foucault among others) and then focus on issues of agency, space, event, and spectatorship in relation to major political movements (revolution, dictatorship, democracy, globalization, and human rights) as seen in the work of major practitioners. Jesusa Rodríguez will lead an intensive one-week performance workshop as part of the course. Performances, video screenings, guest lectures, and visits to FOMMA, Chiapas Media Project, a Zapatista community and other activist projects will provide an additional dimension to the questions raised by the theoretical readings and discussions. Students are encouraged to develop their own sites of investigation and present their work as a final presentation and paper.




sp2012_memoryFall 2012: Dark Sites

This course explores the interconnections between trauma, memory, and performance in the Americas by looking at the dark sites and traces left by criminal politics. Instead of starting with the events themselves—the detentions, torture, and disappearances—we look at the spaces in which they have taken place and the paradigms for thinking about criminal politics and remembrance.




sp11_theories_spectatorshipFall 2012: Theories of Spectatorship

This course explores the many ways in which theorists and theatre practitioners have thought about the ways in which staged action (whether in film, theatre, or politics) pacifies, activates, interpolates, and manipulates viewers. We will explore concepts such as identification, voyeurism, narcissism, bearing witness, percepticide, spect-actor, and others.




sp2012_embodiment_virtual_iraqSpring 2012: Embodiment

This course will consider a number of topics related to embodiment and performance. Has the rise of digital technologies changed the ways in which we think of the body and presence? Has embodiment come to complicate or disrupt paradigms of race, class, gender and sexuality?  Focusing on embodiment in virtual and actual spaces, we will explore such issues as simulation, affect, trauma, memory, re-performance, activism, and resistance.




sp2012_memorySpring 2012: Memory, Trauma, and Performance

This course explores the interconnections between trauma, memory, and performance in Latin America. Starting in the 1960s, we focus on events throughout the Americas—Mexico 1968, Argentina’s ‘Dirty War,’ Chile under Pinochet, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, and other sites in which criminal politics have disappeared citizens and traumatized populations. Does each context have its own unique structure and idiom, or can we think about individual and collective trauma through a translocal, cosmopolitan lens? Topics include: the performance of state power and state sponsored terror; the individual and collective nature of trauma; the study of embodied practices such as testimony and witnessing; the construction of archives of testimony; testimony, its use in literature, museums, and pedagogy, its dramatizations by others, its archivization; the social role of sites of memory (ESMA, Villa Grimaldi etc.); performances of protest and resistance.




sp2012_revolutionSpring 2012: Performance and Revolution

The purpose of this class is to explore a number of topics in Performance and Revolution. It won't be exhaustive by any means, but we'll touch on a number of questions via articles, theoretical and historical texts, and lectures, with the goal of understanding revolution and the role of performance within it, with a special focus on what's going on right now in New York City.