DRA3097 - Social Practice in Art and Performance

2019/0 Module description

StaffDr Kerrie Schaefer - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module explores what art critic/academic Claire Bishop refers to as the ‘social turn’ in arts practice (2012) and the subsequent rise of ‘socially-engaged’ or ‘social practice’ art. Our exploration of this moment examines critical concepts such as participation, co-creation, community, engagement, aesthetics and emancipated spectatorship, and explores debates about the role of art/performance in society generally. At the same time this module aims to reflect on the relationship between social practice art and applied theatre and community performance. The module will examine a broad range of social art and performance practices in order to explore points of (dis-)connection between art and performance discourses, which will hopefully enrich both fields.

Module aims

Taking as its point of departure art critic/academic Claire Bishop’s identification of a ‘social turn’ in art practice, this module aims to introduce students to a broad range of international art and performance practices which claim social and aesthetic objectives.

This module aims to:

  • Impart a historical and critical understanding of ‘social practice’ in the arts, including theatre and performance
  • Encourage theoretically informed analyses of socially-engaged art making and audiencing.
  • Encourage critical engagement with various theoretical developments in relation to social practice in art and performance, such as ‘relational aesthetics’, ‘emancipated spectatorship’ ‘delegated’ versus ‘political’ community and ‘cultural democracy’.
  • Critically interrogate concepts such as space/place, community, participation, collaboration and effect versus affect in relation to specific practices.
  • Through close reading and critical analysis of performance-based case studies, to widen our understanding of what is at stake for makers, participants and publics in socially engaged art and performance.

While reading about different practices and analysing the theoretical frameworks, ideologies, and philosophies that underpin them, there will be the opportunity for you undertake small-group experiment, analysis and presentation on these differing modes of art and performance, and to pursue independent research into an area of your interest.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of a range and variety of socially engaged practices in art and performance
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of key theoretical approaches in the study of social practice in art and performance
  • 3. Demonstrate critical engagement with processes of socially-engaged art and performance making

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate the ability to contribute research to small groups in effective presentations, to evaluate visual evidence and to develop advanced confidence in the ability to analyse, critique and manipulate complex material
  • 5. Demonstrate the ability to apply a wide range of library and IT skills in detailed independent research
  • 6. Demonstrate the advanced ability to utilise research tools and to translate theory into practice

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop advanced personal research skills using personal initiative; to set personal objectives that are linked to a sense of challenge and extending boundaries and to identify and evaluate personal learning strategies that are self critical as much as self reflective
  • 8. Develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback, and to improve communication skills and advanced analytic abilities in discussions
  • 9. Demonstrate the ability to collaborate in various groups and group sizes, to learn elements of teamwork and presentation, to negotiate and manage conflict when appropriate and to demonstrate leadership skills when appropriate
  • 10. Demonstrate the ability to balance between self-direction and collaborative work; to adapt and design working methods for each new situation, self-management, collaborative working skills, problem solving, critical analysis and valuing own and others’ ideas and beliefs

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The module begins with a series of lectures introducing you to key theories, practices and critical debates in social practice in the arts. This will be accompanied by structured seminar tasks exploring examples of social practice in art and performance, and pair and small-group critical analysis of theoretical (aesthetic and sociological/philosophical) approaches and reading group tasks on the scholarly literature.
  • The middle weeks of the module will be a series of small-group student-led presentations further investigating critical issues raised in and through lectures and seminar discussions. Presentations may focus on topics including community, public space, site-specificity, relational aesthetics, modes of spectatorship, citizenship, participation and engagement, co-creation and collaboration, affectivity, discourses of care and support, and so on.
  • The final weeks of the module will allow you to develop individual research interests linked to the final essay of the module

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Seminars: a combination of staff-led lectures, student presentations, analysis, tasks and discussion in seminars
Guided Independent Study267Small group and pair preparation, preparation for weekly tasks, reports, discussions, and presentations, essay writing, portfolio writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation40 minutes1-10Peers and staff oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay603000 words1-3,5,7,10Written
Paired presentation4045 minutes1-3, 4, 6, 7-10Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-3, 5, 7, 10Referral/deferral period
Paired presentation Presentation script and PowerPoint slides .1-3, 4, 6, 7-10Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Claire Bishop, “The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents” Artforum 44.6 (February 2006): 178-183
  • Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells . London: Verso, 2012
  • Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics . Les Presses du Reel, 1998.
  • Kate Crehan. Community Art. An Anthropological Perspective . London; New York: Berg, 2011.
  • Pablo Helguera. Education for Socially Engaged Art . New York: Jorge Pinto Books, 2011.
  • Sophie Hope . Participating in the Wrong Way? Four experiments. Cultural Democracy Editions, 2012.
  • Shannon Jackson. Social Works. Performing Art, Supporting Publics. Routledge 2011.
  • Baz Kershaw, The Politics of Performance: radical theatre as cultural intervention . London: Routledge, 1992
  • Baz Kershaw, Theatre Ecology . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Grant Kester. Conversation Pieces . University of California Press, 2004.
  • Petra Kuppers. Community Performance: An Introduction . Routledge, 2007.
  • Petra Kuppers and Gwen Robertson. The Community Performance Reader . Routledge, 2007.
  • Miwon Kwon. One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity . MIT Press, 2002.
  • Helen Nicholson. Applied Drama. The Gift of Theatre. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
  • Sheila Preston and Tim Prentki (Eds.) The Applied Theatre Reader. London: Routledge, 2008.
  • Jacques Ranciere, The Emancipated Spectator . London: Verso, 2009
  • Jacques Ranciere, Staging the People . London, Verso, 2011.                 
  • Nicholas Ridout, ‘Performance and Democracy’, in Tracy C. Davis (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Performance Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Michael Rohd ‘Translations: Engaging Engagement’ http://www.howlround.com/translations-engaging-engagement
  • Michael Rohd ‘Translations: The Distinction between Social and Civic Practice and Why I Find It Useful’ http://www.howlround.com/translations-the-distinction-between-social-civic-practice-and-why-i-find-it-useful
  • Michael Rohd  (R)Ev-ifesto: Michael Rohd http://www.tcgcircle.org/2013/03/revifesto-michael-rohd/ and find the transcript here http://www.howlround.com/translations-listening-is-the-new-revolution
  • Nicki Shaughnessy Applying Performance: Live Art, Socially Engaged Theatre and Affective Practice , Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012 312pp
  • Thompson, J. Performance Affects. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.             
  • Thompson, J., Richard Schechner. "Why Social Theatre." TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies T181(2004) – special issue on Social Theatre
  • David Wiles, Theatre and Citizenship . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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Key words search

Social art, applied performance, community, participation, site-specific, collaboration, affect

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