Department of Drama UG Module Directory (2020)

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Feeling It: Emotion and Sensation in the Theatre

Level 6 (15 credits)

Who feels what in which theatre? From theories of catharsis in tragic theatre to the predicament of the spectator in postmodern performance, this module takes a critical, historical and theoretical look at how emotion and sensation have been experienced in the theatre and relate practices, which could include live art, video and film. We will work with records, documents and memories of performance, to consider what it might mean to feel real feelings and sense real sensations in relation to events and experiences that we may not think of as being real. Theoretical texts about performance and emotion will be examined in relation to historical accounts and contemporary experiences of performances. We will investigate what different cultures and traditions understand by emotion, and what different kinds of theatre and performance imagine they are doing with people's feelings.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

In this module we'll be trying to understand how to think, perceive and write about feeling and performance. We will be looking at how CONTEXT scaffolds a repertoire of shared feeling by investigating the rise of House Music in Berlin and Chicago. We'll be thinking about the role of CONTENT in the production of emotion in performance by thinking about 18th Century Theatre in England, Ireland and the USA. Finally we will focus specifically on AUDIENCE the dynamics of emotion produced between performer/performance and audience, and amongst audiences themselves as individuals and collectives, to do this we will be thinking about touring theatre, migrancy and the diaspora.

Please watch Jeremy Deller's documentary Everybody in the Place: an Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 [available on Box of Broadcasts with your QMUL login]. Make notes on the feelings at stake in this film and how you think culture and politics inform the kinds of feelings perceptible here.

You might also like to start keeping a journal of your own feelings. You might start to document your feelings in response to performances you are engaging with at the moment, you might think about how and whether you can identify 'feelings' in the room and 'feelings' in the Zoom.

Students are required to watch some films and screenings as part of this module and read widely. All core material will be available free of charge. It might be necessary or useful to purchase downloads or books as part of independent research for the research essay. 

Learning Context Seminar-based
Semester 1

  1. Presentation (5-7 minutes), 25%
  2. Essay (3000 words), 75%
Mode of reassessment Standard
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