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Essay Questions Autumn


Deadline 18th November 4pm (Friday Week 7) (esubmission - please submit in good time - if everyone submits at 3.59pm then the system may cuase your submission to be delayed)

Length: 1500 words


1. Do we need performance studies? With reference to key theorists and ideas, argue for or against the contribution that performance studies has made to the development of drama and theatre departments in the last thirty years?

2. Taking the idea that not everything is performance, but everything can be studied as performance, analyse an example of Victor Turner’s ‘social drama’ to uncover how a performance studies approach can illuminate an event.

3.Attend the exhibition at the Meade Gallery, ‘This is Performance Art’. Before you go, might want to read Marvin Carlson’s Chapter 5 on Performance Art in Performance: A Critical Introduction (on line) to get some more background on performance art’s history, and do look at the information on the WAC website about the exhibition at

Write an essay that analyses how this exhibit displays and interprets ‘performance art’, paying attention to the connections between performance art and postmodernism and also considering the postmodern aspects of the exhibition itself. Be aware that not everything in the exhibit can be trusted …

UPDATE - additional reading link

4. Attend the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum: ‘Postmodernism Style and Subversion: 1970-1990’

Read the information about the exhibit on their website at

Analyse the curation of the materials (the display, framing, and supporting critical apparatus) that the museum curators have developed to display their materials and present them to the public. What features do you notice in the V&A ‘narrative’ about the development of postmodernism, what do they stress? What artists and art forms do they privilege? Especially look at how performance is treated/displayed in relation to postmodernism. Use your lecture materials and assigned reading as prompts to your thinking.

5. Attend the performance at the Warwick Arts Centre of Forced Entertainment’s Void Story at Warwick Art Centre 1-2 November. (See website for other tour dates in the UK). Before you go, read the information about the show on the Forced Entertainment website at You can get tickets at student prices or stand by seats for 5 pounds (it isn’t sold out as of 25/10).

Also read the links under ‘About Us’ and ‘ to learn more about them. Write a performance analysis of the performance, focusing in the first instance on what ‘postmodern’ elements you see in the work, but moving on to consider the content as well as the formal elements: how does it make an intervention into contemporary life and politics? Is this a form of ‘political theatre’? Is it still within the spirit of postmodernism as you are coming to understand it? If so, why; if not, why not?