The Enacted Thought: Performance Practices and the Theatres of Learning

The Enacted Thought: Performance Practices and the Theatres of Learning was an experimental graduate seminar at Princeton University taught in the Spring term of 2016. The students (most pursuing Ph.D.s) came from several departments (music, art history, comparative literature). The class was led by D. Graham Burnett (History and History of Science) and Chiara Cappelletto (Philosophy, University of Milan). The artist David Levine worked with the class through the IHUM “New Schools” initiative.

Participants: Isabel Ballan, Lee Colón, Elaine Fitz Gibbon, Lucy Partman, Matthew Strother, Enzo Vasquez Toral, Nathaniel Whitfield.

Click here for the syllabus for the class

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The course sought to examine the relationship between cultures of performance and cultures of pedagogy in the modern period. The last thirty years have seen a range of new creative experiments at the convergence of critical and creative discourse — leading to new categories of thought-theater like the “performance lecture,” together with various art-space re-imaginings of the scenography/dramaturgy of teaching and learning. This recent history set the occasion for our inquiry, which worked to reach back and recover a genealogy for these contemporary crossings of pedagogy and performance. Our broad aim? A deeper appreciation of the inosculation of stagecraft and mindwork since 1600 — which we seek to achieve (and express) through a hybrid of theoretical discourse and embodied practices.

This site functioned as a collectively-authored general clearing house for materials and sources germane to the class as it unfolded. Summaries of all seminar discussions were posted each week, together with pre- and post-semianar comments and supplementary materials. The students and teachers made this site together as a shared platform for the course, but we archive it here in the hope that it will serve as a resource for others interested in these topics (and that it will afford a kind of archive or documentation for the work we did together in the Spring of 2016).

A final note: the course culminated with a performance project, entitled “Pulling Imaginary Teeth,” which took place on the 28th of April 2016 at the Princeton Art Museum; it was a jointly conceived and jointly executed effort to experiment with non-traditional forms of textual/critical engagement.


P.S.  A word on the structure of these posts: in general the posting for each class session consists of, initially, a summary of the seminar discussion that occurred at that meeting (usually by me, but often with commentary);  below that material in the scroll one will find a series of pre-class postings and discussion threads that relate to the reading for that week.


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