Austria, Vienna

Researching and Performing Identity in the Globalized 21st century

when 3 July 2017 - 21 July 2017
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 8 ECTS
fee EUR 800

This course aims to provide alternative and interdisciplinary approaches to performance and cultural studies practices by examining the multifaceted interaction between technologies--from writing to multimedia platforms-- and identity formation on small and large scales from subcultural formations to global trends. Students will be introduced to many concepts of identity and technology in the 20th and 21st century as well as learn how to embody and employ those concepts in both artistic and practical performances. Students will also learn about the network of ideas that makes up the most contemporary debates surrounding technology and identity. The main questions we will be concerned with will be: how does the development and proliferation of technology affect identity formation? And how can research and experimental practices help deploy those technologies to communicate most effectively in a complex global environment? Students will be able to navigate through these debates and express clear, nuanced, and innovative positions through traditional writing techniques and experimental performance techniques. This course is aimed at students interested in technology studies, identity studies, performance, philosophy, sociological research, politics, and marketing.

The acceleration of technological development and globalization in the 20th and 21st centuries has impacted the way identity is conceptualized, performed, and articulated across fields in politics, entertainment, advertising, news media, and art. Technological and globalized acceleration has created at least two paradoxical conceptions of identity that have their roots in debates regarding identity that go back over 2,000 years: identity is individual and essential, identity is networked and constructed. The ever-increasing role of non-human technologies such as cell phones and AI have shifted the way individuals talk about themselves and each other as well as how ideas are conveyed, reinforced, and mobilized. Technological acceleration and globalization have gone so far as to challenge definitions of terms such as “human,” “truth,” and “technology.” Historically and especially in our contemporary moment, the shift in these definitions has had profound effects on politics, performance, and communication: from the rise of the right in the United States and Europe, to protests movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Arab Spring, to the role of social media in refugee movemens, to the development of “Superapps.”

This course engages students with a reconceptualization of technology and identity through “Transversal Poetics”: a combined research methodology, socio-cognitive theory, and performance aesthetics. This theoretical framework articulates that subjectivity is transversal to the subject, or that agential change remains possible in monolithic and complex systems such as cultures, states, and technological networks. Agential change, however, always occurs through performance. In order to communicate, one must be able to perform thought that may or may not originate from humans.

In a theater, on the screen, on social media, and in our daily lives, we are always performing our multiple identities. In a globalized and technocentric context, those identities go beyond their local and cultural contexts and shift through real and virtual networks. Navigating those networks, whether for practical purposes such as advertisement or political purposes such as protest requires a nuanced understanding of how humans perform identity and how technologies perform identities for them. We are paradoxically all connected as humans in a global world in a context that departs from any traditional definitions of what it means to perform human identity and what it means to have agency in that performance.
We think and therefore we can be anything, but more commonly, technology is thinking for us. How will we think and perform together?

Course leader

Sam Kolodezh is a doctoral candidate at the joint University of California, Irvine and University of California, San Diego program in Drama and Theater. His research interests and work focus on the relationships between identity and technology in early mo

Target group

Students from different backgrounds, activists, academics, artists, performers
Undergraduate, Graduate, Postgraduate, Professional

Course aim

The goals of this course are to provide students with a critical understanding of the role that technology plays in identity formation and performance as well as to provide solutions for effective communication through experimental story-telling techniques and the embodiment of philosophical and critical concepts.

Learning Objectives:
1) Develop critical performance analysis skills through detailed reading, discussion, and writing
2) Employ performance techniques in order to embody complex concepts
3) Critically engage with concepts of what technology and identity are as well as how both might operate
4) Understand the challenges posed to identity by technological accelerationism and globalization and to develop strategies to meet those challenges
5) Understand how technological innovation changes performances of identity in their historical, philosophical, and cultural contexts
6) Evaluate complex philosophical and critical concepts
7) Apply concepts to the analysis of performance in a broad range of mediums (theater, news media, film, advertisements)
8) Communicate complex ideas through writing, performance, and discussion
9) Work collaboratively in an international research context

Credits info

Participants will receive a certificate of participation at the end of the summer school and all necessary documentation to validate the course at their home university.

Fee info

EUR 800: EUR 800 is the reduced student fee, for professionals it is EUR 1050

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