One of the central goals of the Institute is to create new knowledge and to inform new ways of thinking about knowledge. The Institute hosts team-taught seminars that combine the face-to-face quality of traditional classrooms with online collaboration, enabling students throughout the Americas to communicate and work together online. The areas of research developed by the Institute for these courses follow a chronological and thematic sequence, exploring shared topics in the historical trajectory of the Americas in the last five centuries: Conquest, Colonialism, Nationalism and Globalization. The Institute has offered related courses in Trauma, Memory and Performance; Performance and Activism; Latin American Theater and Performance; Performance and/of Indigeneity; and Theories of Spectatorship, among others. We also offer an annual summer course in Lima, taught by major scholars in the field, and co-taught by Peru’s foremost theatre collective, Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, which is open to students from member universities. Students can take the course for credit as an Independent Study at their home institution.

Staging Citizenship, Performing Rights: Bogotá, Colombia

Offered in conjunction with the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, this course explores the relation of culture and rights in the Americas, with emphasis on contemporary Bogotá, Colombia.The course is organized in three segments: a week in New York City, where we introduce key readings and topics on performance, citizenship and cultural rights, especially in relation to Colombia; a 4-day mini course focused on performance and cultural rights in the city of Bogotá, Colombia, with an emphasis on struggles around public space; and the 10-day Hemispheric Institute Encuentro in Bogotá, focused on citizenship and cultural rights across the Americas. Please see for more detailed information on the Encuentro.

Spring 2009: Memory, Trauma, and Performance

This course explores the interconnections between trauma, memory, and performance in Latin America. Starting in the 1960s, we focus on events throughout the Americas—Mexico 1968, Argentina’s ‘Dirty War,’ Chile under Pinochet, Nicaragua, and other sites in which criminal politics have disappeared citizens and traumatized populations. Does each context have its own unique structure and idiom, or can we think about individual and collective trauma through a translocal, cosmopolitan lens? Topics include: the performance of state power and state sponsored terror; the individual and collective nature of trauma; the study of embodied practices such as testimony and witnessing; the construction of archives of testimony; testimony, its use in literature, museums, and pedagogy, its dramatizations by others, its archivization; the social role of sites of memory (ESMA, Villa Grimaldi etc.); performances of protest and resistance.

Fall 2008: Performance and Politics Elections

This course explores the many ways in which artists and activists and other social actors use performance to make a social intervention. We begin the course examining several theories about performance and politics (Brecht, Boal, Foucault, Ngugi wa Thiong'o among others) and then focus on issues of agency, space, event, and audience both online and off. Special attention will be paid to the role of performance in the 2008 presidential elections. 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.

Summer 2008: Theatre/Politics/Memory: 
Performance & Cultural Politics in Peru

Peru has witnessed unprecedented change in the past generation, beginning the period of brutal civil violence suffered by the country from 1980 to 2000. Together with Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, we will focus on the social divisions that have so long defined Peruvian culture, and consider the politics of healing through the careful understanding and crossing of such boundaries. We take the notion of “borders” as a frame to organize our readings, visits, and other activities: how has social and discourse in Peru understood the borders that divide its people by gender, race, or class? How has Peruvian national and state discourse rendered those divisions and/or their potential integration? We will explore these issues through a range of related activities: an intensive workshop with Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, guest lectures with leading scholars and artists, site visits to museums and other sites, and a series of readings and film screenings, all outlined in the schedule.

Spring 2008: Theories of Spectatorship

This course explores the many ways in which theorists and theatre practitioners have thought about the ways in which staged action (whether in film, theatre, or politics) pacifies, activates, interpolates, and manipulates viewers. We will explore concepts such as identification, voyeurism, narcissism, bearing witness, percepticide, spect-actor, and others.