Folklore | Cultural Performance: Theories & Ethnographies
F722 | 9849 | S. Tuohy


Fulfills Form or Theory; fulfills a requirement for the Social and
Cultural Theory track in Ethnomusicology

This course will examine cultural performances—a broad category of
cultural forms ranging from festivals, musical mega-events,
political rituals and sporting events to touristic performances,
worlds fairs, museums and other curated spaces--through theoretical
texts and ethnographies. Focusing particularly on ethnographic
approaches, the course is designed to introduce theories and methods
for studying practices involved in the production of culture and
performance of identity.

The course begins with an article by Milton Singer (1955) which
introduces a broad concept of cultural performance that includes
forms such as rituals, concerts, film, and textual performances as
well as attendant cultural stages, cultural specialists, and
cultural media. Viewing them as communicative events and forms for
the exhibition of culture, Singer articulates a general methodology
for focusing on cultural performance as a basic unit of observation
in the study of culture and the social organization of tradition.
Subsequent class sessions will introduce related perspectives that
provide useful approaches for understanding the aesthetic, symbolic,
and organizational dimensions of public performance. These include
theoretical concepts such as social drama (Victor Turner), language
as social action (Austin), performance studies (Bauman and
Schechner), public performance of gender and sexuality (Judith
Butler), deep play (Geertz), and the dramaturgical analysis of
social life (Irving Goffman). During the semester, we--individually
and together as a class--will read several ethnographies.

During a portion of the semester, students will work together in
groups to prepare and present class materials for the week. Written
work will include short assignments, such as précis and discussions
of ethnographies, as well as a longer paper on a related topic
chosen individually by each class member.