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THTRFLM 4C03 Performance And Society

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Catherine Graham


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 403

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27665

Office Hours: Wednesday 2:00-3:00 or by appointment.

Course Objectives:

Different kinds of dramatic performance arise in response to different social contexts and changes in social structures and relationships.  Recent work in performance theory has attempted to develop modes of investigation and description that can help us better understand how these performances come about and the kinds of impact they can have on the societies in which they are produced.  By the end of this course students should demonstrate:

  • familiarity with a range of performance modes and theoretical approaches
  • the ability to use appropriate theoretical approaches to analyze significant issues they have encountered as creators and/or audiences of dramatic performances

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Articles are available through the content page on Avenue.  Library research will be required to complete assignments.

Method of Assessment:

Article Résumés:  Due Weekly.  Value: 20%

Students must submit a 200-300 word résumé of what they considered to be the important points in the article(s) assigned that week, with an explanation of why they consider these important, in the appropriate Discussion Topic on AVENUE. Students will only be able to see other students’ posting once they have posted something themselves.

Students presenting on the article must post their résumé before midnight on the Monday before their presentation. All other students must post before midnight on the Wednesday before the seminar. Résumés posted after these times will be subject to a 2% per day late penalty and will not be accepted after 7 days.

Participation:  Ongoing.  Value: 10%

Given the seminar style of teaching and learning in this class, attendance at all classes is compulsory. Students are expected to participate actively in class and online discussions in ways that allow us to advance our collective understanding.  Participation grades will be calculated taking into account the degree to which your contributions help other seminar participants to expand the range of ways in which they are able to use theoretical material to work through problems of dramatic performance. Your contributions can be made through both in-class discussion and postings on the AVENUE site.

Class Presentation:  Sign-up on Avenue.  Value: 10%

Groups of 2-3 students will present each Thursday between September 17 and November 19.  45 minutes will be allotted for presentations and students may choose to do two or three separate separate 15-20-minute presentations or to work as a team, depending on their interests.

The goal of the presentations is to demonstrate how the theoretical material presented in the assigned article(s) can help us to think about the ways in which particular forms of dramatic performance challenge or affirm audiences’ way of seeing the world around them. Presenters should start by clearly defining an issue in the relationship of performance to society that they have themselves experienced, whether as creators or audience members for dramatic performances. They should then summarize the critical points in the assigned articles that can help them explore this issue in a new way, and demonstrate how they have been able use these points to better understand their own experience. It is important to consider the relationship between articles when more than one article is assigned.

Students who miss their presentation will be given a mark of 0 unless they provide documentation of a medical problem (or the equivalent) that prevented them from attending class.

Post-Presentation Paper:  Due Monday following presentation.  Value: 20%

4-5 pages, written individually by each presenter, to be submitted to the AVENUE Dropbox by 11:59 on the Monday following the presentation. References and works cited should be in MLA style. Please see AVENUE link for the most recent version of the MLA guidelines. There will be a penalty of 2% per day for late papers.

Final Term Paper:  Due Thursday December 3rd.  Value: 40%

The final term paper consists of a 8-10 page essay that uses at least two of the theoretical approaches discussed in class, plus at least two additional references found through library research. The paper should demonstrate your ability to use theoretical material to think through a problem of dramatic performance that is significant to you. The term paper is due in the AVENUE Dropbox by 11:59 pm on Thursday Dec. 3rd. References and works cited should be in MLA style. There will be a penalty of 2% per day for late papers and no papers will be accepted after Wednesday Dec.9th.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

All written assignments will be subject to a 2% per day late penalty and will not be accepted after 7 days.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Issues to be considered include “reality” in performance, materiality of performance, relationship of audiences and performers, performance as political action, and the relationship of performance and commerce.

Links to readings and audio-visual materials are available on Avenue.