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Syllabus

Official Course Description

Survey of theater and performance in the age of global communications (1950 to the present). Topics include postcolonial and intercultural theater, community-based theater, and postmodernism. Writing intensive.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Be able to associate major events of post-World War II history to the present day with changes in theatre and performance.
  • To identify and appreciate the many ways in which theatre and performance happens, from community to corporate and local to global.
  • Describe theatrical practices and traditions in an age of shifting technology and communication.
  • Engage in a collaborative process of knowledge-building.Identify and analyze intertextuality and adaptation.
  • Demonstrate an improved ability to communicate and collaborate effectively in different styles of writing.
  • Have tools to discuss challenging topics (such as race and gender) in a productive way
Course Modality Overview

This course is taught in a hybrid model using synchronous and asynchronous modes.

Our class will be using a combination of a course website, Google Documents and/or Classroom, and Zoom and for our work together.

Synchronous means that we will meet via a Zoom platform on Monday afternoons from 12:50-2:05 pm.  We will use this time for discussion, seminar-style lectures, and some presentations. 

Asynchronous material includes not only the kind of work that you would traditionally do outside of the classroom setting but also work that covers activities that you might expect to happen in the classroom.  Some of these assignments will require you to collaborate with your classmates. How you choose to do this (synchronous or not) will be up to you.

Students in past online sections have found it helpful to create a text, email group, Slack, WhatsApp, or the like, outside of the classroom parameters for further discussion and support.

 

Contacting Me

I encourage you to contact me as needed (sbiggiecuny@gmail.com).  I check my email twice a day except on Friday-Saturday.  If your message needs a response and you have not received one in 48 hours, then please resend. Before you send any message, please check that the answer is not already available somewhere on the course website.

Required Course Materials

All materials for this course will be available through the classroom website or via electronic form from the Brooklyn College Library. Any materials that you need for individual or group projects will be up to you to procure (though I will help.)

If, as a class, we opt to read something that is not legally electronically available or to view a digital performance, we will discuss purchase options.

I believe it is important, particularly given the contemporary nature of this course, that we support working artists and authors as much as possible and encourage you to respect their intellectual labor by purchasing or by sharing only openly accessible materials. We will discuss this further in class.

You will need working access to a CUNY login, email, and working internet with Zoom capabilities. You will also need an account for archive.org and familiarity with the Brooklyn College library and its databases.

At no time, however, should access to materials, technology, or events be a prohibiting factor from allowing full engagement in the course. If you have a concern, please see me privately so we can work out a solution ahead of time.

Class Website

Our class will make use of this unique class website on the CUNY Academic Commons.

Collectively we will be populating this site with our combined knowledge of theatre and performance. We will go over instructions for how to get set up and use this site in our first class meetings.

Zoom Sessions on Mondays
  • While you are not required to turn on your camera (though it is REALLY helpful for discussion!), please add a photo to your profile so that we can associate names with faces.  
  • We remain in difficult circumstances, so do not worry about whatever background is behind you for zoom, or if you have to turn your camera on and off. 
  • Pets and children are welcome at any time, however, please be aware that we may be speaking about some complicated issues.
  • Please keep yourself on mute when not speaking. 
  • We will be a small class, so speak up when you have something to say. You can use the ‘raise hand function’ or give a physical signal if your video is on.
  • Feel free to use ‘reactions.’  I will also be using polls and the chat.
  • Please also make use of the chat, particularly if you have questions.
  • Please include your pronouns along with your name on Zoom. 
  • Make sure you have the ability to change your name as we may make use of that function at times for activities.
  • I do not mind if you bring food or coffee/tea.  (I will almost always have tea!)
  • I will be using Zoom’s “Waiting Room” function to let everyone into the room at the start of class.  I will also use it for my office hours.    
Assignment Overviews

This is a Writing Intensive Course. 

You are going to write in formal and informal ways and in a variety of styles, not just a traditional research paper.

Writing is a means for communicating ideas. Academic writing is a way for you to respond to the world and ideas around you and synthesize it with your thoughts creating new knowledge that can be shared. This process is one of the most difficult things that we can do as human beings. Writing involves constant decision making. Good academic writing requires you to hold multiple pieces of information in your brain as well as a potential reader (even if it is just yourself) to whom you have to explain the connections that underlie your thinking.

Writing is a multi-step process. Re-writing is a part of that process. You will rewrite. You will edit. Writing takes continual practice to develop and maintain as a skill.

Even though writing may seem like a solitary process, it never really is. The best writing is collaborative somewhere in the process. Expect throughout the semester to be sharing your writing not only with me but with your peers.

Responsive Writing: These are short answers (at least a sizable paragraph or more) in response to a prompt or task that I will pose on the class website. This is writing meant for engagement with your peers. You should respond to other classmates and come back to view other responses to you.  

Synthesizing Gathered Knowledge: You will have 5 assignments (solo or in a group) over the semester relating to a particular performance style, playwright, company, or other factor associated with theatre and performance. These are not short papers, rather, they should be presentational in nature to convey knowledge of the subject matter to the rest of the class. What these assignments look like will vary, but a sizable portion of the presentation will be written. You will be contributing these to our course website.  (Think Wikipedia, but in a more exciting way!)

Creating New KnowledgeYou will choose one topic from the course period to explore in more depth to write a 1800-2200 word paper (plus bibliography) that offers a new perspective or idea.  There will be checkpoint assignments along the way to develop this paper and its argument. (This may be a traditional research paper or a creative written alternative.)

Theatrical Criticism:   You will write an extended critical review (1000 words) of one Brooklyn College production.  Full details of which will be discussed. 

Reflective-Engagement: You will write one long-form self-reflective essay at the end of the course that will be used to determine your final course grade.  

Detailed written assignment instructions and expectations will be posted soon.

Additional activities leading to the class’s collective knowledge will also be part of the asynchronous piece of this course.

Important Course Note:

We are still in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Be gentle with yourself and each other as we navigate our course and the world around us. 

This class covers the last 75 years, which, as with most history, has been tumultuous. Many of the contexts and issues that arise in the work we will be looking at may be challenging and on occasion, discomforting. Much of this is still affecting us today. Our job is to learn, listen, analyze, critique and question. I will try to give a head’s up about particularly troubling content when we approach material, but if there is anything that you are concerned about that may personally affect you please speak to me so that we can make an accommodation.

Please be mindful and respectful of each other throughout the semester. Each of you enters with different combinations of lived experiences. I want our digital space to be one in which you feel successful, comfortable expressing yourself and your ideas, but also one where you are unafraid to ask questions, try things out, and even make mistakes and fail.

In the words of Beckett:, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Disability Services

The Center for Student Disability Services (CSDS) is currently working remotely. In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations, students must first be registered with CSDS. Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to schedule an interview by calling (718) 951-5538 or emailing testingcsds@brooklyn.cuny.edu. If you have already registered with CSDS, email Josephine.Patterson@brooklyn.cuny.edu or testingcsds@brooklyn.cuny.edu to ensure the accommodation email is sent to your professor.

I do my best to make my materials as accessible as possible.  If you have a specific need that is not being met, please let me know. 

Accessible accommodation is also something that we should be including in our work together.  We will discuss what this looks like in class.

Grading

In this course, we will be using a form of what has become known as “ungrading.”

Extensive research has shown that grading is often prohibitive of deeper learning and reinforces existing biases and injustices. Materials on this will be on our course site and discussed in further detail – to start you may wish to read: https://tinyurl.com/7h2j2udy. Grades encourage distance from the learning process, can inhibit creativity, and reify structural hierarchies of race, gender, and class. In choosing to give consistent qualitative feedback and not assign letter grades, I hope to encourage you to engage with this course more deeply and without consideration of a final point outcome. 

Brooklyn College does require a final grade for the course, which you will determine and then explain to me why you deserve. You are in control of your final grade. You know when you are doing the bare minimum or when you are giving it your all and fully engaged. Several times during the semester I will ask you to reflect on your progress.

In lieu of a final exam, you will write a detailed self-reflection and you and I will meet to discuss the justification for the grade you will give yourself. 

In nearly all past cases, students and I have immediately agreed with the grade that they have given themselves. In the rare event that we do not agree we will discuss why that is and possible options to bring your grade in line with your thinking or come to a mutually agreeable grade. Below, I have provided a breakdown of the different course components and what they would be worth in a traditional grading rubric, but also encourage you to think holistically.

Responsive Writing

20%

On our course website

Synthesizing Gathered Knowledge Projects

45%

Solo and group assignments

Creating New Knowledge Final Paper

15%

Will include some structured steps on the way.

Theatrical Criticism

10%

Production options TBA

Zoom synchronous participation

10%



“Traditional Grading Rubric”
Attendance
ATTENDANCE WILL AFFECT YOUR FINAL GRADE: 

The Department of Theatre’s absence policy for courses with one synchronous session a week is “After 2 absences, the course grade is lowered by one full letter grade for each additional absence. For example, as of the 3rd absence, A becomes B; as of the 4th absence, B becomes C. Each lateness or early departure is half an absence. 5 absences are an automatic failure of the course.

Policies on bereavement and religious observance can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin and on the Brooklyn College Website and those absences that apply do not affect the above policy. Should conditions relating to the pandemic or other long-term health matters arise, please speak to me.

Academic Integrity

Official BC policy: The faculty and administration of Brooklyn College support an environment free from cheating and plagiarism. Each student is responsible for being aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and for avoiding both. The complete text of the CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and the Brooklyn College procedure for policy implementation can be found at www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/bc/policies. If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member MUST report the violation. Students should be aware that faculty may use plagiarism detection software.

My Addendum: Plagiarism is the representation of work that is not your own as yours via lack of citation, improper citation, direct copying, etc.  I expect you to properly cite material for this course in a style of your choice.