Spring 2009

Feminism, Theater, and Performance

Listed in: English, as ENGL-79


Jennifer A. Cayer (Section 01)


Why feminism? Isn’t feminism outmoded and passé? What is feminism today, and how is it relevant for theater and performance work? This class will explore the relationship between feminist history, theory, and practice. It will serve as an introduction to the work of twentieth-century women playwrights, performance artists, and critical thinkers. We will first confront feminism as a tool for reading and interpreting issues of gender and sexuality in plays and performances. We will also consider how, and to what extent, feminism influences practices of writing, performing, and spectatorship. We will then mobilize a global and inclusive definition of feminism in order to explore how the social and political aims of early feminisms influenced thinking about racial, national, post-colonial, queer, and ethnic representation in performance. Central debates will include the distinctions and shifts between theater and performance; textuality and embodiment; essentialism and social construction; and identity and representation. Course materials will include plays, performances, and visual art as well as feminist theoretical texts. We will aim to understand the diverse political and personal ambitions, risks, and power of women’s theoretical, theatrical, and performance work. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Cayer.