This course explores the many ways in which artists and activists use performance to make a social intervention in the Americas. We begin the course examining several theories about performance and activism (Brecht, Boal, Ngugi wa Thiong’o among others) and then focus on issues of agency, space, event, and audience in relation to major political movements (revolution, dictatorship, democracy, globalization, and human rights) as seen in the work of major practitioners: CADA, Reverend Billy, Mapa Teatro, Jesusa Rodriguez, and others. Video screenings and guest lectures will provide an additional dimension for the course. Students are encouraged to develop their own sites of investigation and present their work as a final presentation and paper.

One unit of this course—Art and Dictatorship in Chile—will be taught in conjunction with a course taught at the Diego Portales University in Santiago de Chile with Professor Raúl Zurita, “Arte y Dictadura en Chile.” As part of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, this unit will follow a similarly structured syllabus, and share a list of essential readings. The unit will be coordinated through a shared website, which will house course readings, web resources, forums for student work and discussion as well as images and short video clips related to the course.