module specification

SM4012 - Identity and Performance (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module title Identity and Performance
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
192 hours Guided independent study
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 20%   Seminar presentation (10-15 minutes)
Coursework 30%   Essay (1200 words)
Coursework 30%   Project portfolio (1800 words)
Coursework 20%   Learning Reflection (750 words)
Running in 2019/20

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This year long module will explore the shifting concept of Identity and its relationship to the context of Performance. On the one hand, it will explore how Identity is 'performed', in its everyday cultural constructions and representations; on the other, it will analyse how such a concept has in itself represented a key stimulus in contemporary and historical performance practices. The module is intended to provide students with an introductory range of critical and creative strategies, which is to inform their development across the whole BA Theatre Practice programme.

Module aims

• To examine current discourses of cultural identity, alongside contemporary developments in theatre and performance;
• To understand the relevance and application of the subject in relation to broader artistic and critical debates;
• To introduce students to an inter-disciplinary approach to research, promoting links between theoretical and creative practices in the field;
• To provide an introductory range of critical strategies and knowledge that can be transferred to a variety of subjects across the programme;
• To promote innovative ways of looking at the subject in question, within local and global contexts of application;
• To develop academic skills (e.g. essay writing, study skills, assignment presentation), applicable across the Theatre Practice course.


Following an introduction on the concepts of identity and performance, exploring the definition and pervasiveness of these and problematising their cultural depictions, the module will be structured according to a series of case studies (e.g. “body”, “gaze”, “gender”, “sex”, “skin”, “clothes”, “voice” etc.). For each case study, a range of performance practices (including relevant texts, productions and practitioners) will be utilised to discuss the subject of identity and its cultural construction. A conceptual “performance map” will help the students to complement the thematic emphasis of the module with a broad historical and artistic contextualisation of the examples utilised.

On a theoretical level, the module will be informed by key concepts from relevant critical theories as well as performance and art theories. However, the module will also promote practical learning experiences: these may include visits to relevant galleries and venues (e.g. the V&A Museum’s Performance Collection), performance viewings and practical research activities, including interviews. Although intended as a classroom based module, creative practice would be encouraged through the production of portfolios, also incorporating creative writing and design elements and, where relevant, photographic and videographic documentation.

Learning and teaching

The following learning and teaching strategies are going to be employed in the course of this module:
● Multi-media lectures
● Student-led seminars
● Online activities through blended learning approaches
● Practical creative tasks (occasional practical workshops, creative writing, design, photography and videography)
● Visits to relevant points of interest
● Interviews to the general public and/or to professionals in the industry
● One formal essay (this will be guided through academic skills sessions)
● One project portfolio

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will have gained:
• The ability to describe and comment upon the broader significance of the concepts of performance and identity and to apply these to artistic and cultural practices;
• The development of critical terminology and related strategies to investigate and to communicate  the subjects in question, as well as to be used in parallel modules on the course;
• A broad understanding of key tendencies in historical and contemporary performance practices, as informed by discourses of identity;
• The ability to critically and artistically engage in inter-disciplinary research, recognising complexity, devising and sustaining arguments.

Assessment strategy

The assessment modes utilised in this module are intended to promote and test the development of broad academic skills as well as subject specific knowledge and interdisciplinary awarenesses, in line with the learning outcomes.

Learning Reflection: This is a short written submission, preceded by formative feedback, in which students will be asked to reflect on an activity undertaken during the course, by referencing a key idea explored in the module (e.g. performance and performativity).

Essay: this is a short analysis of a suggested live performance, relevant to the subject in question. Here, students are assessed on their developing academic skills, evidencing the ability to utilise critical terminology and to devise and sustain arguments.

Seminar presentation: this is a 10-15 minutes presentation in which students will analyse and communicate the relevance of the weekly theme to a suggested practitioner/production/dramatic text. The use of IT presentation tools will be encouraged in this task and students will be required to submit an online version of their presentation through Weblearn.

Project portfolio: for this written task, students will be encouraged to conceive and communicate a concept for a new theatre short exploring the subject of identity. The portfolio must include: 1) an outline of the proposed concept (this may be integrated with photography, videography, design and creative writing); 2) a discussion of the issues explored with reference to both the theoretical perspectives featured in the module and a range of examples of practitioners/productions/dramatic texts.


Allain, P. and Harvie J. 2006. The Routledge companion to Theatre and Performance. London: Routledge
Auslander, P. 2008. Theory for Performance Studies: a student’s guide. NY: Routledge
Bial, H. (ed.) 2003. The Performance Studies Reader. London: Routledge
Counsell, C. & Wolf, L. (eds.) 2001. Performance Analysis. London: Routledge
Davis, T. (ed.) 2008. The Cambridge companion to Performance Studies. Cambridge: CUP
Gale, M. & Deeney, J. 2010. Routledge Drama Anthology and Sourcebook. London: Routledge
Goodman, L. & De Gay, J. (eds.) 1998. The Routledge reader in Gender and Performance. London: Routledge
Schechner, R. 2006. Performance Studies: an Introduction. NY: Routledge