Theatre 399/Theatre 605/English 407 – Postmodernism and Performance

Winter 2013

M 5 – 8 pm, Rosen Room WDC

Department Phone: 764-5350

Dr. E.J. Westlake

Office Phone: 764-3118

email is the best way to reach me

Office: 2408 WDC


Office Hours: W 4:30-5:30, other random times like every 3rd T, virtually (by email) or by appointment:






Course Texts – click here

Course Objectives: In this course, we will explore the concept of postmodernism, in all of its various manifestations, and what it means in the context of "performance." We will examine various theoretical texts that attempt to explain or examine postmodernism and we will look at theatre, dance, music, television, and film performances and try to ascertain what it is that makes them "postmodern." If I seem to use hesitant language in this paragraph, it is because postmodernism has proven to be a very slippery idea to try to nail down, and to discuss the idea will take an approach that is both phenomenological (because only making its rough outline will make it apparent to us) and materialistic (because only its material consequences, its artifacts, can give us insight into the nature of it). We will look at postmodernism in relation to the modernist avant-garde, and we will try to decide how postmodernism is both a break from and a continuation of the ideas of the previous era.

Facilitation of the Reading: Graduate students will choose one class to facilitate a discussion and present material related to the reading.


  Undergraduate students will do one group project where you will present on a performance that you consider to be postmodern, and you will explain why you think it is postmodern based on the reading from the course.

  Graduate students will either present their research or create a postmodern performance for the class – or any combination thereof.

Postmodern Show and Tell: Bring in something to 5 different classes to share with the class. It can be a poem, a painting, a video, or music. It can be original if you like. Be prepared to tell us why you think it's postmodern.

Postmodern Dictionary: Every week, bring in words from the reading that appear to only be used only in the context of postmodern theory. You will take three of the words from the pool and attempt to define them by next class. Also, bring in your current definition of postmodernism – which will change from week to week. We will construct a dictionary from these exercises by the end of the term. You must post a total of 7 entries.

[Thank you Laurie Beth Clark for those last two ideas]

Reflection: Undergraduate students will post a weekly 500-word reflections the day before class on the reading for the coming week. You must post a total of 7 reflections over the semester.

Final Paper:

  Undergraduate students will write a final paper that is 3000 to 3600 words in length.

  Graduate Students will turn in a final paper of 4500 to 6000 in length, or a well-researched reflection that discusses the final performance in the context of the reading.

Plagiarism: If you don't know what constitutes plagiarism, please consult the MLA Handbook. There are grey areas no one should take for granted. Do not use a paper you have used for another course without consulting me.

Disability Accommodations

Students who need accommodations should arrange a meeting with me during my office hours the first week of classes. If you have a conflict with my office hours, we can arrange an alternate time. To set up this meeting, please contact me by email. Bring a copy of your documentation to the meeting.