Reading & Composition
Divas, Idols, and Pop Stars
In this course we will focus on the intersections of voice, movement, music, and lyrics within live and mediatized popular culture performances. We will examine how film, youtube, mobile phone, animation, TV, and music video re-construct, translate, and transform the bodies, choreographies, images, sounds, and lyrics of performers through media techniques. Central to this study is the foregrounding of women performers from different cultures from the 20 th and 21 st centuries. We will study the impact of issues of discrimination, prejudice, and censorship due to racial, gender, and sexuality injustices. Our research will consider how the dominant powers of the state, religious, and/or societal prescriptions may repress creative expression through indirect or direct discrimination and subjugation to strict censorship and persecution. A special feature of our course is not only culture-specific performances but also how pop star performances move and transform across cultures and temporalities, which will challenge our assumptions concerning popular culture and its powerful influence of sight and sound spectacle in the different contexts of our daily lives.
The main methodology of the course with its emphasis on writing will involve "close readings" of pop star performance acts (choreography, dramaturgy, visual editing, audio composition, stage technologies, and lyrics) with analysis informed by the pop star's individual, cultural and political contexts. To do this, we will use theories from performance and media studies, along with specifically culture-based histories, theories, and practices of media, sound, image, movement and character/narrative production. We will focus on concise description and application of theory to the live performance and media examples. We will development these skills through a variety of essay forms. These will include short descriptive and analytic essays, argument forms supported by close readings, a research paper, and a collective multi-media project.