Performance Studies (BA)

Department Website

Program Description

The undergraduate program at the Department of Performance Studies is a liberal arts degree focusing on the analysis and interpretation of a wide range of behaviors that could be understood as “performance.” Born in the 1980s from the pioneering work of Richard Schechner in fusing cultural anthropology with theater studies, Performance Studies has developed into one of the most innovative fields of interdisciplinary studies in the Humanities. Performance Studies critically investigates all sorts of performing and scenic arts in their cultural and historical contexts—dance, theater, body art, circus, opera and everything in between—as well “offstage” performances of social identity in everyday life.

The National Research Council has ranked Performance Studies at NYU #1 in the field of Theater and Performance Studies. Graduates of the program can use their degrees in several ways: Performance Studies can function as a liberal arts degree akin to Cultural Anthropology, Theater Studies, and Cultural/Gender/Ethnic Studies; or students can approach the degree vocationally as preparation for professional careers in academia or in the arts as Arts Administrators, Curators, Dramaturges, Critics and Analysts, and Artist/Scholars. Many of our students will want to pursue graduate studies in Performance Studies, Theater, and Dance Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Social Work and Law.

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