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Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Prisons and Performance
This seminar starts with the unlikely question of: What can the performing arts, particularly dance and theatre, illuminate about the situation of mass incarceration in America? Part seminar, part immersive context building, students will read and view a cross-section of dance and theatre works where the subject, performers, choreographers, or authors, belong to part of the 2.4 million people currently behind bars in U.S. prisons. Class includes conversations with formerly incarcerated youth, prison staff, juvenile justice lawyers, and artists working in juvenile and adult prisons as well as those who are part of the 7.3 million people currently on parole or probation. Using performance as our lens, we will investigate the unique kinds of understanding the arts make possible, as well as the growing use of theatre and dance, to affect social change and personal transformation among prison inmates. Class trips will include visits to locked facilities and meetings with artists and inmates working behind bars.