Performance Studies

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Undergraduate Studies Program

Performance studies are concerned with communication embedded in aesthetic texts and contexts. Undergraduate courses provide students with a multitude of communication and critical performance experiences. These include the performance of literary texts, voice improvement, interactive performance, performance ethnography, the study of oral traditions, communicative dimensions of self and others as performance (i.e. gender, race, sexuality, age), performance in social contexts and performance theory.

Undergraduate students may also participate in co-curricular performance activities at The Empty Space, join activities sponsored by The Interpreters Theater Club, participate in community outreach performance projects, and apply for the performance studies internship in the school.

Each year the performance studies faculty chooses a recipient for the Kristin Bervig Valentine Undergraduate Scholarship in Performance Studies.  This scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate student who has excelled in performance studies communication classes and made significant contributions to the study of performance through creative activity, scholarship and/or community service.  This scholarship honors Dr. Kristin B. Valentine (Emerita) who retired from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in 2003.

Graduate Studies Program

The graduate program in performance studies emphasizes creative and embodied scholarship geared toward enacting social change. The interdisciplinary nature of the program allows students to complement coursework with other communication areas as well as courses in theatre, dance, justice and social inquiry, American Indian studies, African American studies, Chicana/o Latina studies, Asian Pacific American studies, literary studies, and studies related to women and gender.

Graduate students in performance studies are encouraged to engage in human communication research and creative scholarship that addresses social/cultural issues of identity and to explore performance as an efficacious, aesthetic, social and cultural act.

Each year the performance studies faculty chooses a recipient for the Dessie E. Larsen Graduate Fellowship in Performance Studies. This fellowship provides support for an outstanding graduate student with the potential for great success in performance studies. The fellowship was established by Janet Larsen Palmer and her husband Neal Palmer in 1985. It honors Janet Larsen Palmer’s mother and is intended to support the enduring work of performance studies in the school. 

Students may apply to adapt, direct, and compose public performances and/or participate in outreach activities in the Phoenix metro area.