School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies
TH328 Theatres of Intelligence, Espionage & Surveillance
In their challenge to existing notions of art and performance, the performative avant-gardes developed strategies for disrupting the divisions between art and everyday life. They embraced improvisation, immediacy and spontaneity. They challenged traditional distinctions between spectators and performers. They championed politically subversive -- if not revolutionary -- performances, and by seeking out unconventional venues for performance events, they radically redefined performance itself. Interestingly enough, the broad notions of performance as well as many of the strategies associated with the avant-gardes find ready echoes throughout the intelligence community. Indeed, much of the intelligence community itself constitutes a vanguard, at least according to the sociological definitions of the term. But the issue here is not so much the parallels between performative avant-gardes and intelligence communities. It is rather a question of how the models of performance – from the avant-garde and from performance studies more generally – might help us to critically engage the political, cultural and ethical dynamics that govern intelligence, espionage and surveillance. This module thus looks not only at specific examples of theatre and performance that explore issues of intelligence, espionage and surveillance, but also specific examples of espionage and surveillance that participate in performance paradigms.
II. LEARNING OUTCOMES:
1) Subject Knowledge and Understanding:
-- Students will gain a demonstrable and critical awareness of how the theatrical and performance communities have addressed the ethical and political complexities that accompany intelligence collection by state and private institutions.
‑‑ Carefully examining historical dramas and actual case studies, the module will help students to gain critical perspectives on the parallels between acting and performance, on the one hand, and undercover operations and espionage on the other.
-- Studying key texts from the field of surveillance studies, students in this module will learn how surveillance communities are structured around, and indeed promote, models of performance.
2) Key Skills:
-- Students will learn to access and collate relevant primary and secondary sources.
-- Through carefully prepared and structured discussions, students will learn the principles of civil discourse and of the constructive, free exchange of ideas.
-- Students will learn to engage in the exchange of written ideas.
3) Cognitive Skills:
-- Examining works of dramatic literature, performance events and events defined as “performative,” students will learn to critically analyze diverse forms of theatre and performance practice.
-- Students will learn how to develop and utilize a broad definition of “performance” as a conceptual paradigm for understanding the significance of important events in cultural and political history.
-- Through written analysis of the course material and through class presentations directly related to those assignments, students will become more proficient in critical reading and writing, and in oral expression.
4) Subject Specific / Professional Skills:
-- Extrapolating on specific examples drawn from theatre about espionage and surveillance, students will learn more generally to describe, interpret and evaluate performance texts, production techniques and performance events within their historical a cultural contexts.
-- By coordinating our examination of drama, theatre and case studies with readings in political theory and history of surveillance and, espionage, the course will help students understand how to use political theory, and studies in political history in the analysis of dramatic literature and performance events.
-- Given the diversity of opinions and perspectives that the students will encounter during the terms (both in class debates and in the course material), students will learn to engage critically with a range of critical and theoretical perspectives.
James Harding(J dot M dot Harding at warwick dot ac dot uk)
Tuesday - 1130-1330 - G56