Upcoming Course Offerings

Here is a listing of relevant courses taught by ITS faculty in the coming term, with descriptions where available. Information subject to change—be sure and check the official course guide as well.

ITS and Related Courses: Spring 2020

Click on course titles for information and description.

Gender and Womens Studies 340: “The Performance of Everyday Life: Race, Gender, Aesthetics”

ENGL 410 Playwriting

Gender and Womens Studies / Theatre 415: Feminist Theatre and Criticism

MUSIC 419: Music in the U.S — The American Musical: Genre, Spectacle, Celebrity

Art 511: Art Performance

English 578: American Drama Since 1914

C&I 778: Teaching, Literacies, and Identities

AAS 675, Special Topics: “Women Theatre Artists of Africa and the Diaspora.”

AH 801: Historiography, Theory And Methods In Visual Culture

English 851: Advanced Studies In Theatre and Performance Studies Research Topic: Drama, Theatre, Spectacle

English 859: Seminar in Postdramatic Theatre

Art 908: Artists As Curators / Curators As Artists

This is not an exhaustive list of relevant courses; students should consult with their advisors about other possibilities.

Planning is already underway for 2020-21; let us know if there are particular courses or topics you’d like to advocate for.

Gender and Womens Studies 340: “The Performance of Everyday Life: Race, Gender, Aesthetics”‌

T/R 9:30

James McMaster (new faculty this year!)


We are all performing all the time, whether on the street or on social media. This class is designed to help students think both about what the acts and aesthetics of our everyday lives have to do with race, gender, sexuality, and other categories of otherness. The course will approach the performance of everyday life from a variety of theoretical perspectives including psychoanalysis, affect theory, queer and trans theory, care theory, performance theory, critical race theory, and aesthetic theory. Our aim, ultimately, will be to uncover—so that we might intervene in—the uneven power dynamics that we participate in as a matter of course, day in and day out. Assignments will ask students to attend to these dynamics in their own lives as well as in minoritarian cultural production.

[James notes: “I’m imagining the course to be geared primarily toward undergraduates, but I think graduate students could still get a good deal out of it if they were willing to enter the room with that caveat in mind.”]

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ENGL 410 Playwriting‌

M 2:30-5 p.m.

Jen Plants


What is a play? Why do writers choose such a form? What differentiates the language of action required by the stage from other kinds of storytelling? What role do playwrights play in the art of theatrical collaboration? We’ll start with the most basic questions and examine them by experimenting all semester with our own writing for the stage in diverse theatrical genres. Guest artists, attendance at local theatrical events, in-class exercises and readings of student work will be integral to the class structure. Learn more about what forms and writers are popular on the American stage and why, all the while creating short works of your own that will lay the groundwork for further writing and exploration.

Open to graduate students and undergraduates, the course is designed expressly to meet students where they are–whether they be beginners or have ongoing material in development. The Creative Writing prerequisite can be waived–particularly for those with previous experience in theatre. Please contact the instructor for details at plants@wisc.edu

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Gender and Womens Studies / Theatre 415: Feminist Theatre and Criticism‌

T/R 2:30-3:45

Michael Peterson


Focused on very contemporary US feminist drama (Young Jean Lee, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel), this course includes some theory, variable practice components, and attendance/criticism of live performance events, including University Theatre’s production of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe and possibly KRWT’s production of Lisa Loomer’s Expecting Isabel.

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MUSIC 419: Music in the U.S — The American Musical: Genre, Spectacle, Celebrity‌

MWF 11:00 -11:50

Margaret Butler mrbutler@wisc.edu

This course introduces students to the history and development of American musical theater from its origins to the present. Topics we will explore include the formation of the genre and its relationship to American culture and society; the genre as a commercial medium; its principal creators and performers (singers, actors, dancers, composers, lyricists, dramatists, choreographers, and others); its relationship to film; its role in the formation of America’s national identity; and its communication of American values, attitudes, and norms.

[Note: As she has before, Prof. Butler is willing to enroll ITS students under a higher course number and to mentor them so their paper can count as one of their ITS prelim papers.

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Art 511: Art Performance‌

Fridays 12-5

Michael Peterson


A studio-based practice course that aims to help students expand the range of performances they create while drawing on their individual backgrounds and interests. Includes some historical and theoretical readings on “Performance Art”, “Live Art”, and the broad category of performance. Students will make work involving myriad combinations of many of the following elements: text/spoken word, site-specificity, art-life, multi-media (visual and audio) components, collaboration, and narrative. We will critically investigate such themes as confrontation, participation, interactivity, and documentation.

Students will have the opportunity to tailor creative assignments to their own concerns, whether those be creating intimacy and intensity, crafting presence and theatricality, negotiating the neoliberal “experience economy”, or exploring traditional questions for performance art such as duration, presence, and identity. The long Friday afternoon studio structure means we will also have the opportunity for field trips, video viewings, and to share food both in and out of performance.

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English 578: American Drama Since 1914‌

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00-12:15

Room 4208 Helen C. White Hall

Instructor: Professor Aparna Dharwadker


As a field of performance “American theatre” has existed for more than two hundred years, but theatrical activity during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries consisted mainly of transatlantic imports from countries such as Britain, Ireland, and Germany, as well as revivals of major European playwrights, especially Shakespeare. Significant original American drama is said to begin with the generation of Eugene O’Neill around 1916, and has developed over a century into a rich, diverse body of work supported by a variety of commercial and institutional structures. An important aspect of the diversity is a complication of the idea of “Americanness”—following a period of dominance by white male playwrights such as O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee, American drama now includes perhaps the largest concentration of notable women playwrights in the contemporary world, as well as groundbreaking figures from the African-American, Asian-American, Native American, and Chicano communities, among others.

This course will therefore employ the term “American” to define both a distinctive national space and an inclusive creative category for approaching the drama and theatre of the past century. Its focus will be on classic plays by major playwrights of both genders, belonging to “mainstream” as well as “minority” communities. The discussion will attend consistently to drama’s multiple modes of existence—as a printed text meant for readers, as a live performance meant for audiences, and as a text or performance that can now be disseminated ad infinitum through the media of photography, film, television, video/DVD, and the internet.

Tentative Reading List

[There is not enough time in a one-semester course to include all significant American playwrights of the period since 1916. However, additional playwrights, including seminal figures such as Tennessee Williams, Amiri Baraka, Sam Shepard, Wendy Wasserstein, and Paula Vogel, will be covered through lectures and audio-visual materials.]

Eugene O’ Neill, Long Day’s Journey into Night (pub. 1956) Lillian Hellman, The Little Foxes (1939)

Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge (1956) Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959) Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962) Luis Valdez, Zoot Suit (1979)

David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (1983) August Wilson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1985)

Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Millennial Approaches (1993) David Henry Hwang, Golden Child (1996)

Susan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog (2001)

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C&I 778: Teaching, Literacies, and Identities‌

Wednesdays 9-11:30

Erica Halverson


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AAS 675, Special Topics: “Women Theatre Artists of Africa and the Diaspora.”‌

Mondays 4:30-7:05

Sandra Adell


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AH 801: Historiography, Theory And Methods In Visual Culture‌

Tuesdays & Thursdays 5-7 PM

Art Lofts 1274

Professor Laurie Beth Clark


This seminar is the core requirement for the graduate minor in the transdisciplinary study of visual cultures. The seminar charts the formation and history of the dynamic, multi-stranded, and still changing field. It seeks to build a practice-based knowledge of the theories and methods important to the field’s formation as well as those driving the field’s future.

You will develop a set of skills in critical reading, research, analysis, writing, and presentation (including visual presentation methods) that will be of use to you throughout graduate school and in your professional life beyond.

Toward these goals, the course has three main dimensions:

As your introduction to the Ph.D. minor here, the course will take advantage of the programming of the Center for Visual Cultures, introduce you to faculty and students involved in the study of visual cultures (building a sense of intellectual community), and introduce you to research resources.

As your introduction to the practices in the study of visual cultures, the course explores the controversies that drove the field’s formation, its complex relations to various disciplines and the issues, challenges, debates fueling the ongoing transformations of the field.

As a practicum, the seminar also emphasizes the development of essential skills in critical reading and analysis, primary and secondary research methods, the writing of various kinds of professional prose, oral presentation, and oral response to questions that are vital to your success in graduate study and future viability in the field.

This course is designed to enhance your professional formation; you are strongly encouraged to navigate the course architecture of readings and assignments according to the needs and dictates of your own research and developing areas of specialization.

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English 851: Advanced Studies In Theatre and Performance Studies Research Topic: Drama, Theatre, Spectacle‌

Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 – 10:45

Mary Trotter


(Meets with ENGL 456 Topic in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture)

From “legit” drama to circus performances, American theatre in the nineteenth century was a primary vehicle through which diverse Americans imagined themselves, their histories, and the possibilities for their rapidly changing nation’s future. The legacy of American theatre found in the texts and archival remnants of its melodramas, minstrel shows, musicals, “wild west” shows, and vaudevilles offer important insights into the legacy of theatricality and representation in American culture that continues to inform how “America” performs/is performed locally and globally on TV and film, on stage, and in everyday life. We will learn about playwrights, theatre companies and spaces, actors, stage technology innovations, theatre economics, and audience spectatorship.

This is a great class for students interested in nineteenth-century American literature and history, dramatic literature, popular culture, radio/television/film studies, and theatre and performance studies. Graduate students may take this course for credit toward a PhD Minor in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies. ITS Students may take this course for credit as a theatre history course.

Undergraduate and graduate students will read about two plays per week along with supporting critical and historical texts about American theatre and performance. Graduate students enrolled in ENGL 851 will also complete additional readings, attend two grad-only course sessions (to be scheduled) outside of the regular course time, and write a longer research paper. They also will be excused from at least two class meetings reserved for undergraduates.

Please note that this course will address sensitive and difficult issues. These will include racial and ethnic prejudice, stereotyping and violence on the American stage, including blackface minstrelsy, and those representations’ reflection of and influence on contemporary art and politics.

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English 859: Seminar in Postdramatic Theatre‌

Tuesdays 3:00-6:00

Professor Mike Vanden Heuvel


Course description

“The postdramatic could thus be said to signal a shift in theatre toward form and ‘away from’ drama.”

Since the historical avant-garde, experimental theatre has pointedly shifted away from traditional, text-based drama using aims and strategies that Hans-Thies Lehmann collectively terms “postdramatic.” As well as challenging the primacy of the written script, these performances explore, among other things, nonlinear structures, the “death of character,” new dramaturgical models, the impact of intermediality on live performance, new relations between performance and audience — all with profound consequences for notions of dramatic writing, theatrical presence, the role of the performer, and the experience of the spectator.

Representative artists whose work will be examined may include (Germany/Austria): Peter Handke; Heiner Müller; René Pollesch; Falk Richter; Elfriede Jelinek; (Flanders) Jan Fabre &

Troubleyn Company; Reckless Sleepers; (U.K.) Martin Crimp; Sarah Kane, Gob Squad; Forced Entertainment; Complicite; Blast Theory; (France) Francois Peyret; (Italy) Luca Ronconi, Sociétas Raffaello Sanzio; (U.S.) the Wooster Group; The Builder’s Association; Elevator Repair Service; among others. Issues of postdramatic design, acting and directing will also be featured, and number of theoretical perspectives—on issues related to space, duration, perception, the subject and the body—will ground our investigations.

The course investigates current tendencies in theorizing performance through practice. We begin with Lehmann’s text (first published in 1999 and translated into English in 2006) as a starting point for discussion of a range of issues that his formulation of the postdramatic bring into play: the politics of representation and spectatorship, the nature of vision, the relations between live and mediated experience. As well as developing critical vocabularies for responding to such work (written scores and videos of productions) and conducting advanced theoretical reading and research, students will be familiarized with the critical, artistic and institutional contexts that give rise to, and often contest, the postdramatic.

Student research is conducted through dramaturgical practice, in-class presentations on topical material, media design projects, and a final research project that combines research, critical writing, dramaturgy and/or performance. Students will also lead a discussion and workshop.

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Art 908: Artists As Curators / Curators As Artists‌

Tuesdays & Thursdays 145-415

Art Lofts 1274

Professor Laurie Beth Clark


This is a course for anyone interested in curating as a creative practice. This is a studio class with curatorial projects as assignments but there will be substantial reading exploring a range of perspectives within contemporary curatorial activity. The course will be useful to students of theory and history who are considering curatorial careers but it will have a special focus on artists as curators.

More and more artists have multiple identities as critics, curators, and makers. Artists curate their own work for solo exhibitions and they curate their friends’ work for group shows. Artists may curate shows of their peers as a way of building a creative community, thereby providing logical contexts for their work. Artists serve in curatorial roles in biennials and festivals. Artists are sometimes invited to play with collections (e.g. Fred Wilson and Sophie Calle). And artists use curation as an artmaking strategy, building works from collections of objects. Increasingly, there are practices of virtual curation, where art works are assembled conceptually as lectures or electronic galleries.

Successful curation involves insight, persistence, and judgment. For a show to realize its curatorial intentions, judicious selection, meticulous research, public and often private persuasion, as well as dynamic installation strategies all come into play. The class will consider these pragmatic aspects of curating alongside an array of theoretical issues.

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