“Nervous” Modernities: Performance Practices and the Neuropsychological Condition of the Modern

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: The Arts

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

"Nervous" Modernities

Fall 2020

Taught By: Margaret Araneo

Section: A

CRN: 9020

Credits: 4

This course will interrogate how performance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries both reflected and helped generate modernist ideologies around neuropsychological difference and normativity. Western cultures of the long fin de siècle were dynamic correlative spaces where medical and social scientific discourse intersected with an array of cultural phenomena. Within a hyperstimulating modernist landscape marked by rapid changes to physical and social environments (e.g., industrialization, urbanization, mass migration), the medical discipline of neurology emerged. With it came new approaches to the human condition that relied upon the identification of neuropsychological impairment to articulate fragile, contradictory models of normativity. As these medical and social-scientific ideas spread beyond lecture halls and hospitals into the broader culture, theatre artists working in a variety of genres—drama, opera, cabaret, dance, variety entertainments, and the avant-garde among others—began to explore modernity’s neuropathological tendencies. “Hysterics,” epileptics, neurasthenics and other “nervous” bodies could be seen on large and small stages across Europe and North America in vibrating cities such as Paris, Munich, London, and New York. Course materials will include an array of modernist performance texts, artists, and theatrical events - including the naturalist dramas of Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, decadent plays and theory of Oscar Wilde, operas of Richard Strauss, “eccentric” comics and dancers of variety and vaudeville houses, theatrical experiments of the Futurists, Dadaists, and Expressionists, and the works of Antonin Artaud – alongside contemporaneous medical, social scientific, and popular discourse relating to pathologies of the brain and nervous system.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: The Arts (LARS)

Campus: Online (DL)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: September 14, 2020 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 22, 2020 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Open*

*Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 11:31pm 7/9/2020 EDT

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday, Wednesday

Times: 10:00am - 11:40am

Building: TBD

Date Range: 8/31/2020 - 12/16/2020