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TH987-Theatre and Performance Research Methodologies

Module Code: TH987
Module Name: Theatre and Performance Research Methodologies
Module Credits: 30

Convenor: Dr Silvija Jestrovic,

Office Hours: By appointment

Class location: G56

Class time: Monday, 10:00-12:00

Space and time for independent work: Monday, 15:00-18:00 (G55)

Module Description

This module aims to enable Post-graduate research students to understand and use research methods that are central to this discipline and field of research. Each unit will explore a specific approach to research through major texts, applied through one or two specific examples. This may involve reading, watching material or physically exploring how the methodology may be applied in practice. This aim is to equip you with the key concepts and skills needed to plan and undertake research in this discipline.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

Understand the differences between qualitative and quantitive research methods, and the different aspects of specific qualitative approaches to gathering and evaluating research data. Assess the appropriateness, and challenges, both ethical and practical, involved in research methods that are central to this discipline and field of researchBe able to integrate specific research methods into a research essay, alongside theory and overall research concept.


Formative Assessment – in specific sessions, which students nominate early in course, students prepare to lead session, along with tutor, critiquing specific methodology, raising questions regarding specific aspects of the approach and its possible application to research contexts.

Portfolio (2000 words, 40%, due Monday week 11): Write up of critical engagement with ethical and practical issues involved in two methodologies engaged with in the course, preferably one of which the student has presented in class.

Assessment Criteria:

In general, the portfolio will be assessed on coherence and clarity of argument. Specific criteria include:

Evidence an original and persuasive argument regarding the methodologies with which you engage
Demonstrate clear critical analysis of material read
Demonstrate your understanding of the issues at stake when engaging with the methodologies

Essay (3000 words, 60%, due week 1 of summer term): Demonstrates how a specific methodology is most appropriate to a project proposal, including a critical evaluation of the practical and ethical implications of this methodological approach, with the possibility of suggesting an alternative approach.

Assessment Criteria:

In general, the essay will be assessed on quality, coherence, originality and clarity of argument.

Specific criteria include:

Evidence substantial independent research and critical thought
Demonstrate an ability to initiate and sustain a clear, original and rigorous critical argument
Evidence an ability to organize and support complex ideas in coherent academic prose
Demonstrate an ability to understand and critically interrogate research methods and their appropriate application, being mindful of context
Demonstrate an ability to write fluently and observe academic conventions

Class Schedule

Each class meeting will be divided between lecture and discussion. Be sure to have read the readings by class on the day they are listed. Be prepared to respond to questions in written and oral forms during class and to develop questions around the readings for discussion. Individual tutors are listed next to each class session.

MONDAY – 10-12.00 (G55 - 15-18.00 – space for students to work independently)

Each week specific student/s lead on the methodology under discussion

WEEK 1: Introduction – Dr Silvija Jestrovic, and Professor Jim Davis,

This session will introduce the module; outlining briefly the difference between qualitative and quantitive research, suggest some key methodological approaches to theatre and performance studies research, and give an overview of the conceptualisation and approach to this module.

WEEK 2: Research methodsComparative Cross-Cultural Methodologies: Problems and Possibilities (Dr Milija Gluhovic,

In this session we shall focus on cross-cultural methodology with a particular emphasis on the topics of gender/sexuality, human trafficking, and (post)colonialism.


Taylor, Diana. “Acts of Transfer” in The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (2003), 1-52. Sorgenfrei, Carol Fisher. “Countering ‘Theoretical Imperialism’: Some Possibilities from Japan.” Theatre Research International 32:3 (2008): 312-324. Butler, Judith. "Critically Queer" in Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of 'Sex' (1993), 223-242.

Janelle Reinelt, “When is ‘Labour’ a Coerced Performance? Trafficking, sex work, and consent” in Lateral 5.2 (2016).

Stef Smith’s play Roadkill (2010)


Breaking the History of Silence: Documentary of the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery (2001), 68 min. [excerpts]

Preparation: Consider the relevance of cross-cultural methodology in your own research (e.g. your dissertation projects) and learning.

WEEK 3: Performance as research (Dr Jonathan Heron,

This session will be an introductory practical workshop on the PaR methodology as an approach to theatre and performance research.


Kershaw B and Nicholson H (eds) (2011) Research Methods in Theatre and Performance, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. [INTRODUCTION ONLY];

Nelson R (2013) Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [INTRODUCTION ONLY];

Riley SR and Hunter L (eds) (2009) Mapping Landscapes for Performance as Research, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmilan. [INTRODUCTION ONLY]

Preparation: Consider the relationship between practice and research in your own learning.

WEEK 4: Performance as research (Dr Jonathan Heron,

This session will be part-workshop, part-seminar in order to engage with PaR through published research and digital archives.


Fleishman M (2012) The Difference of Performance-as-Research, Theatre Research International, 37:1, 28-37.

Allegue L, Jones S, Kershaw B and Piccini A (eds) (2009) Practice-as-Research in Performance and Screen, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [INTRODUCTION ONLY]

Whitton D (2009) The Practical Turn in Theatre Research, Forum Modernes Theater, 24:1, 77-88.

Preparation: Consider the difference between practice and research in the work of others.

WEEK 5: Archival research (Prof. Jim Davis,

This session will consider the use of archives for research purposes and also the ethical issues arising from the ways in which archives are compiled and the ways in which their contents are used as evidence in academic study.


Maggie Gale & Ann Featherstone, ‘The Imperative of the Archive: creative archive research’ in Baz Kershaw & Helen Nicholson, eds. Research Methods in Theatre and Performance (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), pp.

Fiona Mackintosh, ‘Museums, archives and collecting’ in David Wiles & Christine Dymkowski eds., The Cambridge Companion to Theatre History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 267-280.

Diana Taylor. The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the America in the Americas (Durham & London, 2003) – Chapter 1- Acts of Transfer, pp. 1-52.

Preparation: Bring a copy of a historical document of your own choice – this may be a written document or a visual example – and be prepared to discuss it briefly.

WEEK 6: (Auto)Ethnographic writing (Dr Milija Gluhovic,


Conquergood, Dwight. Cultural struggles: performance, ethnography, praxis. Ed. and with a critical introduction by E. Patrick Johnson. University of Michigan Pres. 2013

Peter Harrop and Dunja Njaradi. Performance and Ethnography: Dance, Drama, Music. Newcastle upon Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

D. Soyini Madison. Critical Ethnography : Method, Ethics, and Performance. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE, 2012.

Preparation: Consider the role and place of auto(ethnographic) research in your own research and learning.

WEEK 7: Collaboration (Dr Milija Gluhovic,

This session will focus on discussing issue of collaboration through an analysis of a CASE STUDY: “The Black/North SEAS project” – an example of cross-European arts collaboration which had strong research, policy and impact prerogatives. We explore questions such as: How artists collaborate across European borders? How to research collaboration?


Noyale Colin and Stefanie Sachsenmaier, eds. Collaboration in Performance Practice : Premises, Workings and Failures. Basingstoke, Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. [Excerpts.]

Milija Gluhovic, “European Women on the Move: Gender, Migration and Belonging in Anne Lise Stenseth’s Kiss and Waste Project.” The Kiss and Waste Project. Ed. Morten Johan Svendsen. Førde: Sogn og Fjordane Museum of Fine Art, 2011. 70-85.

SEE: Screening in class of excerpts from selected SEAS project performances

Preparation: Consult the SEAS project’s website.

WEEK 8: Performance as research – Intervention (Maria Estrada Fuentes,

This session will look at various ways of understanding performance as a strategy and paradigm for social intervention. We will address the role of time and performance practice in conflict transformation.


Maggie Inchley, ‘Touring Testimonies: Rebalancing the Public Realm through Human Rights Activism in Asylum Monologues and Seven,’ Lateral 5.2 (2016),

Helen Nicholson, ‘Creativity and Social Intervention’ in Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 113-133

John Paul Lederach, ‘On Time: The past that Lies before Us’ in The moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) pp. 112-149

Preparation: Bring a list of three questions related to the readings.

WEEK 9: Research in Action - Oral History (Dr Wallace McDowell,

In this session we are going to consider how to approach interviews when researching.


Ann Oakley, Interviewing Women Again: Power, Time and the Gift. Sociology, 2016, Vol. 50(1) 195. –213, DOI: 10.1177/0038038515580253,

Ray Pawson, Theorizing the Interview. The British Journal of Sociology, 47:2 (Jun., 1996), pp. 295-314. URL:

Preparation: Work up a set of 10 questions that you might ask someone to explain their educational journey to doing this MA

WEEK 10: Research in Action – Action in research (Participation, Observation, Thick description) (Dr Milija Gluhovic,

This session will use the Case study: The Eurovision Song Contest to analyse how to engage with participant-observation, focussing particular on using thick description both to collate material and use it in your research itself.


Clifford Geertz, “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretative Theory of Culture,” in his The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York : Basic Books, 1973. 2-30.

Karen Fricker and Milija Gluhovic, “Introduction: Eurovision and the ‘New’ Europe,” in Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, eds. Karen Fricker and Milija Gluhovic. Basingstoke, England; New York: Palgrave, 2013. 1-29.

Preparation: See one of the past Eurovision Song Contests (ESC) on YouTube ahead of the class (if you are not familiar with the ESCS.)