Intermediality - Literature, Image, Performance

TDM 185G
Cécile Guédon
2019 Spring
Mondays, 12:45-2:45pm
Location: Farkas 203
Class Capacity: 15 Consent Required: Instructor

This is an introductory course which explores various ways of theorising the interaction between literature and other art forms (music, visual arts, performing arts). We will thus be looking at the interrelation between literature, image, performance; we will try to understand their triangular definition, with various historical configurations. The overall idea is to refine a trans-medial narratology applied to the field of performance specifically. In the last couple of decades, narrative has been positively recuperated by the performing arts, which were once overtly hostile to any assimilation to a plot or a storyline. However, what we have seen so far has been restricted to theorizations of narrative in dance (Susan Foster) or theatre studies (Claudia Breger); at both ends of this spectrum–from dance, as predominantly gestural, to theatre, as predominantly verbal–there seems to be a strong, cumbersome tie to a language-based narratology.

In this course, we will, in turn, seek to identify features of narrativity, which could be transposable to the in-between, dialogic and relational field of performance. Part of the difficulty is that performance is a profoundly intermedial endeavor, and is anything but a stable object of research. Performance is also a dangerously all-encompassing term. In the last fifty years, “performance” has come to characterize an increasingly large number of choreographic pieces– from early modern court dances to baroque operas, from classical ballet to modern dance, from postmodern dance to post-war “happenings” or contemporary “installations.” Such a shift from dance to performance has been observed as a corollary development in twentieth-century practices, following a consistent enlargement from modern dance, to post-modern dance and rival categories such as “happenings”, finally (and temporarily) stabilizing with the wide-ranging notion of “performance.” We can agree on using “performance” as a productive term, encompassing a large sample of case-studies. But how can we manage the generality of the term when we are by the same token seeking highly specific instances of residual, exceptional and scarce narrativity in our case-studies? Can we establish key features of narrativity pertaining to performance as a medium?

See also: Theoretical