01. Course Description

West Virginia Wesleyan College // School of Fine Arts & Humanities
Department of Art
Fall Term 2013  //  Performance Art: Gender  //  ART356
6:00-8:30pm, Mon/Wed, McCuskey 120
Professor: Ellen Mueller // Office: McCuskey Room 105
Office Hours: Tues & Thur, 2:30-5:00pm & by appointment
Email: mueller_e@wvwc.edu

No pre-requisites. Non-majors welcome. Counts for Aesthetic Expression requirement.



This course is designed as a survey of some of the origins, influences, theories, processes, and manifestations of the intersection between performance art and gender. We will read, watch, and discuss perspectives on this art form written/created by artists, curators, art historians, and critics (including, but not limited to, RoseLee Goldberg, Claire Bishop, Mira Schor, etc.). We will examine the history of performance art and the role gender has played, and continues to play, in its development. We will also examine the economic, political, and social forces that have shaped the ways we perceive gender, and then consider these factors as influences in artistic creation. We will view work by artists who consider themselves performance artists. Using this information as a springboard, we will create our own performances influenced by gender. Students will have the option to perform themselves, or to direct other in performance.


  • Students will gain basic knowledge and understanding of a range of performance processes and applications such as live performance, video performance, and combinations of the two. They will also gain exposure to a variety of technical skills including video shooting and editing, spatial configuration, and engineering interactivity.

  • Through reading and discussion assignments, students will think about/discuss/experience influences/precursors to this art form. Via the development of discussion questions and the participation in group discussion, students will study the relationship between performance art and popular culture and other art forms.

  • Students will develop a cursory understanding of their own sources and influences by brainstorming, researching and presenting their findings on the subject.

  • Students will practice identifying and utilizing the elements and principles of design in a 4-dimensional environment by creating and critiquing videos and performances.

  • Students will gain enhanced fluency in visual language and the ability to use that language, both written and oral, in their personal artistic practice and public critique.

  • Students will strengthen their ability to form creative ideas through conceptual assignments.

  • Students will strengthen awareness of the historical context of performance art and gender by looking at both historical and contemporary artists as frames of reference for their practice.

  • Students will learn about the professional practices of an artist in terms of documenting their work and exercising self-discipline to complete all work in a timely fashion. Students will practice taking photos and videos of their work, turning in a documentation disk of all their work at the end of the semester.