Thurs. 9/10/2015  Opening Class
The English word “theory” comes from the Greek “theoria,” meaning contemplation, speculation, or sight. It is related to the word “theatron,” or place for viewing – the theater. Theater and theory are kin.

Section 1: Performance Theory
Tues. Sept. 15: What is Performance?
Richard Schechner, "What is Performance' in Performance Studies: An Introduction
Maurya Wickstrom, "The Lion King, Mimesis and Disney's Magical Capitalism"
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Thurs. Sept. 17: Play, Ritual, Theatre
Richard Schechner, Performance Studies: An Intro., chapters "Ritual" and "Play"
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Tues. Sept. 22: Performance as/in Culture: The Cockfight
Clifford Geertz,  selection from The Interpretation of Cultures
John Emigh, selection from The Cambridge Companion to Performance Studies
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Thurs. Sept. 24: Counter-Mimicry, or Performance Across Cultures
Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman 
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Tues. Sept. 29: Performance and Social Memory 1
Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember, pages 1-40
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Thurs. Oct. 1:  Performance and Social Memory 2
Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember, pages 41-104.
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.


Section 2: Prehistoric to Ancient
                         (From Cave to Cavea)
Tues. Oct. 6: Prehistory, Performance, and “Origin Rituals”
Cave of Forgotten Dreams, d. Werner Herzog, streaming OCRA.
Martin Bernal, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, sel.
Macgowan and Melnitz, "The Theater Begins with Primitive Man" (1959)
Schechner, Performance Theory,  selections
Recommended: Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire, 1-52.
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
 Thurs. Oct. 8: Ancient Africa/Ancient Mediterranean
 Ronald J. Leprohon, "Ritual Drama in Ancient Egypt."
The Triumph of Horus
 David Wiles, Greek Theater Performance, chapters 1 and 2.
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Tues. Oct. 13: The Theatre of Dionysus
Euripides, The Bakkhai in Classical Tragedy, Corrigan
Barbara Kowalzig, "And Now All the World Shall Dance!"" Dionysus' Choroi Between Drama and Ritual."
Assignment: Bring in a piece clothing or an accoutrement that signifies femininity.
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Thurs. Oct. 15: Plato and Aristotle on Mimesis
Plato, The Republic: Book 7 and Book 10.
Aristotle,  The Poetics of Aristotle: 31-65 (Halliwell’s translation)
Luce Irigaray,  selection from "Plato's Hystera"
Recommended: Wiles, chapter 5.
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Tues. Oct. 20: Greek Comedy
Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae in Three Plays by Aristophanes
Wiles, chapters 3 and 4
Sue-Ellen Case, "Classic Drag"
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
 Section 3: India and Africa 
Thurs. Oct. 22: 1. Intro to Theatre Anthropology
Eugenio Barba, Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology, selections
Dojoji, a noh play, in Karen Brazell anthology 
 Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements. 
Tues. Oct. 27: The Sanskrit Theatre of Ancient India
Bharat-Muni, selections from the Natyasatra,
John Emigh, brief summary of the Natyasastra’s Bhava/Rasa theory
Bharat Gupt, Dramatic Concepts, Greek and Indian, selection
Barbara Stoler Miller, Theater of Memory, selection
 Kalidasa's play Sakuntala in Miller, Theater of Memory
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements.
Thurs. Oct. 29:  Traditional Theatre of Kerala
Suresh Awasthi, Drama: The Gift of the Gods, selection 
Phillip B. Zarrilli, Kathakali: Dance-Drama, selection
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements
Tues. Nov. 3: Theatrical Legacies of Pre-Colonial Africa 1
Margaret Thompson Drewal, Yoruba Ritual, selection

Wole Soyinka,  “The Fourth Stage" in Art, Dialogue, and Outrage. 
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements
Thurs. Nov. 5: Theatrical Legacies of Pre-Colonial Africa 2
Kathryn Linn Guerts, Culture and the Senses, selection

David Kerr, African Popular Theatre,  selection
Recommended: Guenther, Trickers and Trancers sel. 
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirement
Tues. Nov. 10: Midterm Exam
See Midterm Study Sheet for the grim details!


Section 4: Rome to Medieval Europe and the "New" World
Thurs. Nov. 12: Rome -- Two Medeas, Greece to Rome, and Republic to Empire
Euripides Medea
Seneca Medea
A. M. Nagler, selection from Sourcebook in Theatrical History
Go to this page for more on the reading assignment.
Tues. Nov. 17: Plautus to St. Augustine: Roman Empire to Early Christian Rome
Odai Johnson, "Unspeakable Histories: Terror, Spectacle, and Genocidal Memory"
Plautus comedy, The Captives
Saint Augustine, "The City of God"
Tertullian, "On the Spectacles"
Recommended:  Robert Beacham, Spectacle Entertainments in Early Rome 
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements
Thurs. Nov. 19: Holy Roman Empire: Medieval Mass, Tropes, and Hildegaard von Bingen
Quem Quertis, in Gassner anthology
Hrosvit, Dulcetius in Gassner anthology
John Spaulding Gatton, "There Must Be Blood" in Violence in Drama
Hildegaard von Bingen, Ordo Virtutum
Andrew Sofer, The Stage Life of Props, Chapter 1
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements
Tues. November 24: Carnival, Mumming, Farce 
Natalie Zemon Davis, "The Reasons of Misrule," Society and Culture in Early Modern France
The Farce of the Fart in Enders' anthology of medieval Farce
A Christmas Mumming, The Play of St. George in Gassner anthology
Highly recommended: Bakhtin, "On Popular Festive Forms"
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements
Tues. Dec. 1: Corpus Christi -- "old" and "new"worlds

Carolyn Dean, Inka Bodies and the Bodies of Christ, selections
Motolina, History of the Indians of New Spain, selection
Recommended:  Leo Cabranes Grant, "From Scenarios to Networks"
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements
Thurs. Dec. 3:
Everyman, in Gassner
Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements

Please pass in or email Professor Schneider with your suggested final exam essay questions by this date. 
December 8: The Medievalisms of Juridical Performance
Jody Enders, Medieval Theatre of Cruelty, selections 
Joseph Cummins, History's Great Untold Stories, selection
Go to this page for specifics, links, prompts, and additional requirements
December 10:  Final Exam, 10:30 007 Lyman Hall.
See Final Study Sheet for the grim details
December 11,  optional extra credit paper due.  


Course Objectives and Requirements


1. To introduce students to performance theory and basic performance studies texts as a way to approach both the challenges of charting performance history and the comparison of performance forms across culture. The first third of the class is devoted to introductory performance theory as a platform for the historical inquiry that follows.

2. To stimulate rigorous questions about the functions of performance in the generation, propagation, and/or negotiations of culture(s).

3. To introduce students to various global performance forms in historical context, and apply performance theory to engagement with historical material.

4. To encourage students to work to identify the social assumptions informing as well as generated by various theatrical practices (such as the stage/house divide, practices of duration, ritual aspects, levels of codification, levels of improvisation, etc.).

5. To explore pre-historical, ancient, and medieval performance practices while considering the limits of traditional historiographical reliance on written forms or archival remains.


This course will be based on lecture and in-class discussion of the material we read and, in some cases, view. Due to the broad amount of cultural and historical material covered by this survey, it is essential that students attend all classes and complete all readings.  YOU MUST BRING THE READINGS IN PAPER FORM TO CLASS. YOU CAN SHARE—BUT A PAPER COPY MUST BE IN EVERY OTHER STUDENT'S HAND. IF YOU CHOOSE A PARTNER AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TERM, YOU CAN PLAN ACCORDINGLY. No computers or cell phones can be used during class. I also strongly recommend reading from print and taking reading notes. For some of my reasoning toward this decision, read this Washington Post article from April 2014.  Other studies have shown that note taking on a computer during a lecture is not as effective and handwritten notes. Coming to class without readings will result in a mark of absent after two times.

Undergraduate students:

Tests:   There is a midterm and a final for this class. The midterm will be in class on November 4.  The final will be in December in class. Please email Philomena Bradford for questions about particulars of the final exam.

Performance Project: This is a group-based class presentation of research as performance. The performance part of the presentation should take no more than 10 minutes.  Your group will have time to then discuss research and take questions from the class. The best possible format would be a performance followed by a structured discussion based on questions that you pose. Either way, I expect careful research on the period/style as well as  theoretical clarity in a piece that is creatively presented and well thought out. The whole group of you should arrange to meet with the Professor or the T.A. a couple of weeks beforehand so that we can talk about the presentation and plan accordingly. Office hours or staying after-class for a brief discussion can work for this.  See the Group Performance link for more on the pedagogical intention of this project.

Extra Credit, non-required paper: For undergrads, if you would like to write a paper on any topic pertaining to this class that will allow you to do further research and present it to the professor, feel free to email me with the paper and I will consider it for extra credit. This paper will be due by 5pm on December 11 and must be emailed to

Attendance and Reading reports: You will be required to write a reading response no more than 1 page long for each class, posted to the Canvas class site.  Please respond to the questions posted for each day on the syllablog.  While attendance only forms 20% of the grade, having more than two (2) absences over the course of the semester will adversely affect your grade. More than 4 absences may constitute failure. Only illnesses, religious holidays and family emergencies constitute excused absences. Please see me immediately if you are having problems with attending or doing the work for the course.

NOTE:  I highly discourage theatre arts and performance studies concentrators from taking this course S/NC. Please note that S/NC students must have at least 70% attendance and turn in 70% of the response papers, in addition to full completion of the other class requirements, to pass the class. Students who do not meet these requirements may fail to receive credit for the class. Consistent tardiness may be counted as absences in some cases. Please act accordingly.

Grading for Undergraduates:
Performance Projects 20%
Attendance/reading reports: 20%
Midterm: 30%
Final exam: 30%

Books can be bought at the bookstore (see link to book order). But all books are also on reserve at the Rock. All other reserves on OCRA. Some PDFs are on the Canvas site. If you can't find it at OCRA, check Canvas. And remember: must have, or share with only 1 other person, a paper copy for class.

Graduate Students:

Complete all required and recommended reading for each class. No reading response papers required. Full participation in discussion, with sensitivity to the general level of the class. That is, graduate students should enable undergraduates (and thus assist the professor) in the arc of class discussion.

Graduate students will write a 15-20 page research paper due December 4 and emailed to me (I will be grading it while away). Please provide me with an abstract and preliminary bibliography for this paper by Nov. 1. I would also like to have you pass in an annotated bibliography of at least 5 additional performance theory texts or collections (you may pass in up to 10) and a "performance theory" bibliography of 30-40 books that you craft over the semester. We can discuss this further. For the first few weeks there will be prompts for "graduate students" on the syllabus pages, but after that I will assume that your bibliography building and reading is independently underway. Meet with me during office hours (or by appt) at some point in the semester to discuss the annotated text selection. The annotations should be up to 1 page in length (no more), requiring at least five pages in total. The annotations and bibliography are due by December 11.

Attendance/Participation 20%
Expanded annotated reading bibliography in Performance Theory 20%               
Research Paper: 60% 

Academic Code for ALL STUDENTS:

Below is a statement on Brown’s Academic Code. Please feel free to ask many any questions about the code or proper citation for your research projects. I will not tolerate academic dishonesty.

Norms regarding the quality and originality of academic work are often much more stringent and demanding in college than they are in high school. All Brown students are responsible for understanding and following Brown's academic code, which is described below.

Academic achievement is ordinarily evaluated on the basis of work that a student produces independently. Students who submit academic work that uses others' ideas, words, research, or images without proper attribution and documentation are in violation of the academic code. Infringement of the academic code entails penalties ranging from reprimand to suspension, dismissal, or expulsion from the University.

Brown students are expected to tell the truth. Misrepresentations of facts, significant omissions, or falsifications in any connection with the academic process (including change of course permits, the academic transcript, or applications for graduate training or employment) violate the code, and students are penalized accordingly. This policy also applies to Brown alums, insofar as it relates to Brown transcripts and other records of work at Brown.

Misunderstanding the code is not an excuse for dishonest work. Students who are unsure about any point of Brown's academic code should consult their courses instructors or an academic dean, who will be happy to explain the policy.


Book Order

Highly Recommended to Purchase:
Note: The bookstore will list as required, but all books are also available at the Rock. 

Aristotle. The Poetics of Aristotle. Translation and Commentary by Stephen Halliwell. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987. ISBN 0807817635

Barba, Eugenio and Nicola Savarese. A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology: The Secret Art of the Performer. New York: Routledge, 1991.  ISBN: 0415053080

Connerton, Paul. How Societies Remember. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. ISBN-10: 0521270936

Corrigan, Robert. Classical tragedy, Greek and Roman: 8 plays. Hal Leonard Corporation, 1990.
ISBN 1557830460, 9781557830463

Drewal, Margaret

Gassner, John. Medieval and Tudor Drama. New York: Applause Books, 2000. ISBN-10: 0936839848

Henderson, Jeffrey. Three Plays by Aristophanes : Staging Women. New York: Routledge, 1996. ISBN: 0415907446

Miller, Barbara Stoller. The Theater of Memory: The Plays of Kalidasa. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. ISBN: 023105839X

Schechner, Richard. Performance Studies: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2006. ISBN: 0415372461

Soyinka, Wole. Death and the King's Horseman. W. W. Norton, 2002. ISBN: 0393977617

Wiles, David. Greek Theatre Performance: An Introduction. New York: Cambridge, 2000. ISBN: 0521648572.

Recommended to Purchase:

Geertz, Clifford
2000 The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Enders, Jody
2002 Theatre of Cruelty. Cornell University Press, 2002. ISBN: 080148783

Zarrilli, Phillip
Kathakali Dance-Drama. New York: Routledge, 1999. ISBN: 041519282X

Schechner, Richard
2006 Performance Theory. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 0415314550.

Wickham, Glynne. The Medieval Theatre, 3rd edition, 1987. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 0521312485.


The Following List is partial and Does Not include the many titles already on reserve or on the syllabus. If, in your study, you read something you think I should include let me know.

Performance Theory

Huizinga, Johannes. Homo Ludens: A Study of Play. London: Routledge, 2000.

MacAloon, John J. Rite, drama, festival, spectacle : rehearsals toward a theory of cultural performance. Philadelphia : Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1984.

Roach, Joseph. Cities of the Dead: Circumatlantic Performance. New YOrk: Columbia U. Press, l996.

Schechner, Richard. Between Theater and Anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, l985.

Taylor, Diana. The Archive and the Repertoire. Duke University Press, 2003.

Turner, Victor. From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. New York: PAJ Press, l982.

Greek and Roman Theatre

Beacham, Richard. The Roman Theatre and its Audience. Harvard University Press, 1996.

Beard, Mary. The Roman Triumph. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007.

Bergman, Bettinam and Christine Kondoleon, eds. The Art of Ancient Spectacle. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999

Bobrick, Elizabeth, "The Tyranny of Roles: Privilege in Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae." In The City as Comedy: Society and Representation in Athenian Drama. University of NOrth Carolina Press, 1998.

Csapo, Eric and William Slater. The Context of Ancient Drama. University of Michigan Press, l995.

Csapo, Eric, and Margaret Miller. The Origins of Theater in Ancient Greece and Beyond: From Ritual to Drama. Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Duncan, Anne. Performance and Identity in the Classical World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006

Easterling, Pat, and Edith Hall, eds. Greek and Roman Actors: Aspects of an Ancient Profession. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Eckart Kohne and Cornelia Ewigleben, eds., The Power of Spectacle in Ancient Rome: Gladiators and Caesars. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Futrell, Allison. Blood in the Arena : The Spectacle of Roman Power. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997

Hall, Edith. The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Mannix, Daniel P. Those About to Die: The Way of the Gladiator. New York : ibooks ; London : Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Landels, John G., Music in Ancient Greece and Rome. London: Routledge, 1999

Marshall, C.W. The Stagecraft and Performance of Roman Comedy. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Plass, Paul. The Game of Death in Ancient Rome. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

Potter, D.S. and D.J. Mattingly. Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Scodel, Ruth. Theater and Society in the Classical World. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1993

Silk, M. S. Aristophanes and the Definition of Comedy. Oxford University Press. 2002.

Slater,Niall W. Spectator Politics: Metatheatre and Performance in Aristophanes. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Slater, Niall W. Plautus in Performance. Routledge, 2000.

Smith, Tyler Jo. Komast Dancers in Ancient Greek Art. Oxford, 2010.

Wiles, David. Mask and Performance in Greek Tragedy. Cambridge, University Press, 2007.

Wiles, David. Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Winkler, John and Froma Zeitlin. Nothing to Do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in Its Social Context. PRinceton University Press, l992.

Wise, Jennifer. Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theatre in Ancient Greece. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

Ancient Indian Theatre

Gupta, Bharat. Dramatic Concepts, Greek and Indian: A Study of the Poetics and the Natyasatra. D.K. Printworld, 2006. ISBN-10: 8124600252

Ley, Graham. "Aristotle's Poetics, Bharatamuni's Natyasastra, and Zeami's Treatises: Theory as Discourse." Asian Theatre Journal - Volume 17, Number 2, Fall 2000, pp. 191-214

Mankada, Dolararaya Ram. Ancient Indian Theatre (an interpretation of Bharata's second Adhyaya). Anand: Charotar Book Stall, 1960.

Panchal, Govardhan. Theatres of Bharata and Some Aspects of Sanskrit Play-Production. Munshiram, 1996. ISBN-10: 8121506611

Sullivan, Bruce M. "Dying on the Stage in the Nāṭyaśāstra and Kūṭiyāṭṭam: Perspectives from the Sanskrit Theatre Tradition." Asian Theatre Journal - Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2007, pp. 422-439

Tarlekar, G.H. Studies in the Natyasastra: With Special Reference to the Sanskrit Drama in Performance. Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass, 1999.

Varadpande, Manohar Laxman. History of Indian Theatre. New Delhi : Abhinav Publications, 1987.

Pre-Colonial African Traditions

Apter, Andrew H. Black Critics & Kings : The Hermeneutics of Power in Yoruba Society. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Arnoldi, Mary Jo. Playing with Time : Art and Performance in Central Mali. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1995.

Banham, Martin, ed. History of Theatre in Africa. [electronic resource]. Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Harding, Frances, ed. The Performance Arts in Africa. London ; New York : Routledge, 2002.

Harrison, Paul Carter, et al, eds. Black Theatre : Ritual Performance in the African Diaspora. Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 2002.

Kramer, Fritz. The Red Fez : Art and Spirit Possession in Africa, translated by Malcolm Green. New York: Verso, 1993.

Losambe, Lokangaka, and Devi Sarinjeive. Pre-Colonial and Post-Colonial Drama and Theatre in Africa.Trenton, NJ : Africa World Press, 2001.

Medieval European Theatre

Ault, Thomas. "The Passion of Christ and Ritual Performances in Fifteenth Century Ferrara." Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance V.3, No.2, 2006.

Chemers, Michael M. “Anti-Semitism, Surrogacy, and the Invocation of Mohammed in the Play of the Sacrament.” Comparative Drama 41:1 (Spring 2007), pp. 25-55

Clark, Robert A, and Claire Sponsler. “Other Bodies: Racial Cross-Dressing in the Mystere de la Sainte Hostie and the Croxton Play of the Sacrament.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 29.1 (Winter 1999): 61-88.

Dox, Donnalee. The Idea of the Theater in Latin Christian Thought: Augustine to the Fourteenth Century. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, c2004.

Enders, Jody. Death by Drama and Other Medieval Urban Legends. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Enders, Jody. “Theater makes history: Ritual murder by proxy in the Mistere de la Sainte Hostie,” Speculum 79:4, 2004, 991-1016.

Hanawalt, Barbara A., and Michal Kobialka, eds., Medieval Practices of Space, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000, 167-197

Kobialka, Michal. "Holy Space and Representational Place in the Tenth Century." In Levy, Shimon, ed. Theatre and Holy Script. Sussex Academic Press, 1999

Senelick, Laurence. "Skirting Christ" in The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre (Routledge, 2000).

Southern, Richard. The Medieval Theatre in the Round; A Study of the Staging of The Castle of Perseverance. London, Faber and Faber, l975.

Other Theatres of the Ancient/Medieval World

Gillam, Robin. Performance and Drama in Ancient Egypt. Publisher: Duckworth, 2006.
ISBN-10: 0715634046

Moreh, Shmuel. Live Theatre and Dramatic Literature in the Medieval Arab World. New York : New York University Press, 1992

Group Performance Description and Schedule

 Performances or performance-based experiments are intended to be constructed to illustrate material we have been studying. Clearly you can not transport us to ancient Greece and create an authentic reproduction. The same goes for the other sections. But you can construct a performance or performative exersize inspired by what we are studying. Those working on India, for example, may want to develop a piece based on what you learn about "rasa." Those working on Greece might want to try out a scene from Themophoriazusae in order to illustrate something you have gleaned from the reading. Those working on Africa will use Drewal as a guide --what kind of piece does her analysis of the basic elements of African ritual performance prompt? The medieval groups are divided into two. Perhaps one group will try out performance on the move, station to station. And the other might be inspired by the carnivalesque or the "ambivalent laughter" described by Bahktin. You will decide in your group what to construct based on additional study in the area. Your piece should ideally be no more than 10 minutes and you should plan to collectively explain your process and engage in discussion afterward. In all we will take 20-30 minutes of class time for these presentations.  Please meet with Philomena Bradford or myself in advance of your assigned date to discuss your plans.

Group One (Ancient Greece): October 14

Group Two (India): October 16

Group Three (Pre-colonial Africa): October 30

Group Four (Medieval, processional): November 13

Group Five (Medieval, carnivalesque): November 25