Theatre and Performance Studies is taught across many schools and departments of King’s College London. We have attempted to collate modules that may be of interest to undergraduates, postgraduates, early career researchers or faculty members with investments in Theatre and Performance Studies. This includes modules that directly engage in the field, research or writing practice of theatre and performance. This list likewise includes modules where the central driving question is tied to the conceptual or critical grounding of theatre and performance as a field. Finally, we have included modules where the field of study sits within an expanded understanding of what constitutes performance, such as immersive media, exhibitions and museums, history, image, object and gesture, memory, and the moving image.
Department of Digital Humanities / Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Art and Activism in the Digital Age, co-created module recipient of a Curriculum Innovation Award
Department of English
Department of French
Department of German
This module will offer a comprehensive overview of Aeschylean theatre as performed in its original context(s), its relationship with earlier poetry (Homer, lyric) and its reception in ensuing literature and art, both in antiquity (drama, iconography) and in modern times. It will develop one students’ understanding of the very few surviving documents of ancient Greek culture, alongside students’ critical understanding of theatre performance as an artistic practice and in relation to Athenian religious, political and legal institutions, as well as cultural currents. The course includes a research trip to the National Theatre Archive, to explore the productions of the two NT Oresteias of the 20th century.
The Ancient Pantomime Dancer and his World
One of the greatest aesthetic attractions in the ancient world, from the end of the first century BC to at least the end of the sixth century AD, was pantomime dancing, a ballet-style stage entertainment in which a silent, solo male dancer impersonated successively a series of mythological characters to the accompaniment of instrumental music and sung narrative.The module will undertake a close reading of primary sources that can help us reconstruct something of the atmosphere of such an electrifying art form and glimpse the pantomime’s body in action. All sources will be studied in translation therefore no knowledge of Greek or Latin is formally required.
This module will provide an understanding of the different approaches to Roman Comedy through the study of texts (in translation) and paraphernalia as well as some aspects of the reception of Roman comedy. By the end of the module the student will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the linguistic, literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts in which Roman comedy was written, read and produced as well as some aspects of its reception history. Topics covered include: laughter, slaves in Roman Comedy, stagecraft, comic technique, metatheatre, and theatre reception.
The Reception of Roman Comedy
This module will provide an understanding of different approaches to the Reception of Roman Comedy. It will develop students’ ability to evaluate how the writing of Plautus and Terence has shaped and is shaping the European comic tradition.
Attacking the Theatre in the European Theatrical Tradition
Attacking the Theatre is a research-led module aiming to follow the anti-theatrical thread in European literature (including theatre itself) and culture from the Greek dramatic texts to the aesthetic and performative explorations of the twentieth century. Part of the intellectual challenge offered by this module arises from the detection of recurrent patterns, concerns and anxieties across geographical, chronological and cultural borders.
Defending the Theatre in the European Theatrical Tradition
This is a research-led module aiming to follow the pro-theatrical voice as heard in European literature (including theatre itself) and culture from the Greek dramatic texts to the aesthetic and performative explorations of the twentieth century. Part of the intellectual challenge offered by this module arises from the detection of recurrent patterns in the struggle to legitimate theatre and acting/dancing across geographical, chronological and cultural borders.
Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries
Digital Media Production Cultures
A critical introduction to ‘spaces of production’, with an emphasis on the effect of rapid technological innovation on project-based creative media industries. The module examines how these industries and the people within them adapt or initiate resistance to this rise in digital working methodologies. Aspects of the module that may particularly interest students of theatre and performance include: From Film Practice to Data Process; Spectacular work in the VFX and games industry; Representational practices, texts, aesthetics and the politics of invisibility; Audiences, fans and publics; The hope economy – volunteering, interning, labour and playbour; ‘Live’, ‘Event’ and ‘Experience’ – emergent hybrid economies.
Immersive Media and Extended Realities
Drawing on theories and debates in media and communication studies, cultural studies, and media industry studies, this module interrogates both industry and audience perspectives on a wide range of digital (VR, AR, MR) and nondigital (immersive theatre, pervasive gaming) immersive media. This module hence posits a critical perspective of theatre, film, game, storytelling and documentary as immersive realities, examining sites of everyday performance – education, training, engineering, art and health – through a same lens.
Exhibitions, Identities and Politics: In Museums and Other Exhibiting Organisations
This module introduces students to debates around the role that museums, galleries and other exhibitionary institutions play in the articulation and negotiation of cultural identities. Theatre and performance students will be particularly interested in the focus on presentation, and displays of inclusion, exclusion and power.
Department of Digital Humanities
Global Digital Audiences
Drawing on the legacy of audience studies, this module investigates how technological affordances may have changed ideas of interpretation and participation. The module equally weighs theories of audiences against case studies and social and technological realities in the Global North and the Global South. Theatre and performance students will be challenged to re-evaluate their idea of an ‘audience’ considering how audiences differ to ‘users’ within a global context.
Department of English
Early Modern Playhouse Practice: The Spaces, The Companies, The Business
This module examines the conditions of early modern performance by exploring the material, social and economic contexts of the London theatre industry. The module investigates the material and repertorial practices of early modern theatre companies and their associations with particular playing spaces. the construction and alteration of playhouses; the composition and practices of adult and boys’ playing companies; commissioning, writing processes and censorship. In practical and theoretical terms the relationship between text and playhouse in the early modern period.
This course aims to develop students’ familiarity and understanding of complex intercultural appropriations of Shakespeare on stage and film. Culturally diverse primary texts encourage students to challenge the familiar binary oppositions between ‘global’ and ‘local’, ‘dominant’ and ‘marginal’ or purely ‘hegemonic’ or ‘oppositional’. Considering the shift from Shakespeare as ‘national poet’ to ‘global playwright’ students will look at the universalising force or potential of theatre, as a medium through which Western values are imposed, challenged or radicalised.
Shakespeare on Screen
This module explores screen adaptations of Shakespeare, from silent films to Hollywood blockbusters and the proliferation of Shakespeare’s narratives in alternative cinema culture. The focus will be on the presentation of Shakespeare’s language and narratives, a range of adaptation from close to loose, and the works of performers and directors. The schedule may involve public screenings or events around London.
Staging Shakespeare in Early Modern Playhouses: Actors, Audiences and the Experience of Theatre-Going
This module aims to introduce students to primary materials and scholarly debates surrounding the material, sensory, experiential and emotional experience of playgoing in the late sixteenth- and early seventeen-centuries. Using play-texts and other primary and secondary material, and drawing on the ‘laboratory’ venues of Shakespeare’s Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, it will enable students to evaluate the distinctions between different sorts of playing space in early modern England and the potential impacts of these spaces on plays and performance.
Theatre, Gender and Culture across Jacobean London
The unit offers an analysis of the relations of theatre, gender, and culture in London, 1603 – 1625, providing an advanced introduction both to the current state of criticism of Renaissance drama and to the representation and construction of gender and culture in a defined period. Module materials include key plays in the Shakespeare canon and cognate texts by other writers, mostly dramatic, so as both to develop an understanding of the Shakespeare canon and to demonstrate that Shakespeare offers only one of many contemporary ways of addressing Jacobean culture.
Theatre and Performance Research Methods
This module introduces you to advanced scholarly research and writing practices in the fields of Theatre and Performance Studies, with an emphasis on language, historiography, ethnography, and practice-led-research, as well as performative writing and fictocriticism. Students will develop a keen understanding of issues central to theatre and performance research work, including the composition and recording of field notes, diaries, and journals; reviews; histories; compendia; and dramatic criticism.
This module provides students with the opportunity to develop individual performance projects as investigations into critical concepts in performance studies. Students are exposed to the idea of ‘practice-based research’ in which theoretical questions are explored through practical exercises, leading to critical reflection and analysis in written form. This will take place through a series of led workshops and unsupervised project time.
On Speed: Accelerating Culture since the 19th Century
How does technology impact upon culture, bodies, and ways of understanding, both of the self and of the environment? ‘On Speed’ reflects upon the ways in which technologies and theories of speed and acceleration have interacted with artistic form and style to create new aesthetic and political possibilities. The module will familiarise students with writers such as Bergson, Benjamin, Kittler, Virilio and Latour, amongst others. This would provide a solid critical grounding for theatre and performance students invested in material histories, labour and performance, performance philosophy, technology and performance, and theories of modernity.
Advanced Topics in Literary Studies: Africa’s Radical Narrative Arts
This module inquires into a range of African narrative arts—both ‘élite’ and ‘popular’—that assert a vitalism that defies the cultural negation imposed by colonial and neocolonial orders. The module both looks at well-known aesthetic interventions on the continent, such as the Black-consciousness surrealism of Négritude, the ‘engaged cinema’ of Ousmane Sembène, and the native-language people’s theatre of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and popular arts including anti-Apartheid music, film and cartooning. Theatre and performance students will gain the ability to evaluate the inter-constituting nature of aesthetics and politics, both in application to performance and to other art forms.
Ecology and the Moving Image
The main aim of this module is to introduce students to some of the principal ways in which ecology and the moving image have come to have such a close and important relationship over recent years. Students will bring together ecophilosophy and ecocinema in order to investigate: the ways in which Hollywood has engaged with climate change and the environment transnational filmic; interrogations of the age of the Anthropocene; international films that explore relations between humans and the landscape; audio-visual as well as silent explorations of the non-human animal world and vegetal life; post-anthropocentric cinema.
Department of French
Rights before Human Rights: Eighteenth Century Theories and Representations
This module considers the changing language of rights from the perspective of emerging new literary and theatrical representations of sovereignty. The question of ‘representation’ is especially salient given that it contains both a political and imaginary or ‘ideological’ dimension. This module pairs together a series of political ‘discourses’ with theatrical representations in order to investigate the following questions- what is sovereignty? What is obedience and submission? What are the limits of tolerance and compassion? How can rights be vindicated and by whom?
Text, Image, Object and Gesture in Twentieth-Century French Writing
This module explores French thought and writing in the twentieth century through three interrelated focal points: the object, the image, and the gestural movement of a body. The module will be particularly interesting to those theatre and performance students invested in performance philosophy, and more specifically, in subjects such as the ontology of the image, objected-oriented ontology, phenomenology and anthropology. This module may be taken by students without a reading knowledge of French.
Department of German
Documenting the Camp: Testimony, Memory, Legacy
This module helps students to situate and critically analyse cultural engagements with camp spaces, beginning with the concentration camps of the Third Reich, before turning to their colonial precursors in Namibia, as well as present-day refugee and transit camps. It provides a critical grounding in Carl Schmitt’s theory of ‘states of exception’ (‘On Dictatorship, 1921), and Hannah Arendt on the political, as well as further thinkers Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben. This course is particularly useful to theatre and performance students looking to specialise in Memory Studies, historicisation, history and display, the archive, or political, aesthetic and ethical dimensions of mechanism of exclusion. This module is taught and assessed in English.
Maximising Performance? Brecht, Boal and Big Business
In the post-Fordist societies of contemporary Europe we are constantly being asked to achieve more, increase our productivity, display our abilities; in short we are asked to perform. In this module we will take the multiple meanings of performance seriously and trace the journey of representational methods first developed by anti-capitalist theatre practitioners such as Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal into the very sphere these authors and playwrights often critiqued – the world of big business – and back again.
Department of War Studies
Peace & Justice
In the aftermath of violent conflict, often involving widespread atrocities and serious violations of human rights, states and societies are faced with what is sometimes presented as a stark choice between the pursuit of peace and the pursuit of justice. This module provides a framework in which to consider the ethical, moral, political and legal imperatives for justice, alongside ideas of, and the history of, peace. This module has in the past included movement workshops for students on the MA programme International Peace & Security.