Introduction: The Stuff of Teaching
What does a performance studies syllabus instantiate or call into being? As an interdiscipline, performance studies has been incorporated as an academic field while still remaining sensationally unsettled in its interventions, methods, and objects of analysis. Performance studies syllabi may function as performance scores, performative texts, archives of pedagogical practice, and finally, as the material trace of our performance as teachers. Indeed, the classroom, for many of us, is our most prolific and durational performance site. These iterative classroom performances rely on scripts as well as improvisational practices, with new forms and constellations emerging from the tried and true. The classroom is then a black box: a space for the staging of collective process, of dialogical exchange, and of inquiry itself as a performance form. It is also a black box in another sense: the classroom walls obscure its inner workings, rendering the performance of pedagogy strikingly difficult to represent. How do we document these pedagogical performances and make them accessible in some way to those who weren’t there? Assembled together in this special issue of Performance Matters, the materials that follow offer up a material trace of the ephemeral collective life of the performance studies classroom. As performances go, teaching is a particularly durational one that is notoriously difficult to document. The texts assembled here constitute an archive of performance studies pedagogy. It is our hope that the scripts, scores, exercises, and the shared ethos they enact will be reanimated and improvised upon in the embodied repertoire of new classrooms.
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