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Race + Performance in América

This course is about performance and its power to reflect and reproduce social systems of race, class and gender in America. From early colonial performance to contemporary drama and media, the material we examine in this course considers America as contested space, where the multiple Americas are not just written but also performed. Throughout the semester, we will focus on how performance tells a story of the land and people of America, where, as playwright Cherríe Moraga and other prominent public intellectuals have suggested, the accent in the “e” of América suggests multiple possibilities, histories, and views of what it is to imagine and locate our selves within this country and region of the world. We will especially consider plays, film, and other cultural expressions that expose, build up, reimagine and dismantle regimes of race, gender, class and cultural privilege in mainly, but not exclusively, theater and film of the 20th century. Readings include the work of Octavio Solis, Anna Deveare Smith, Luis Valdez, Tony Kushner and Cherríe Moraga to name a few, plus mid-century musicals and contemporary televised media. Students will also have the opportunity to experience and integrate live theater of the Bay Area. Among the course requirements are weekly reading responses, a midterm and a final essay. Active participation in section discussion and activities is required.

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