Contemporary Cultural Practices

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Bachelor of Performing Arts
Course Code
BPAC 4000
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This interdisciplinary course examines pivotal movements in Western art and performance during the modernist period of the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. Through analysis of historical and socioeconomic contexts, students explore how artistic disciplines coexist and influence each other. Students identify and examine the parameters and principles behind the paradigm shift that led to new artistic concepts and innovative forms in music, film, video, theatre, dance, writing and visual arts. Students will consider philosophical and political approaches to making art, as well as the practice of key individual artists. Issues such as the “autonomy of artwork,” the materiality of performance, simultaneity, juxtaposition, collage/montage, and notions of representation will be examined in detail. The goal is to expand the student’s knowledge of performance history, and to draw inspiration and practical knowledge from the work of artists.
Course Content
  • Introduction to modernism and performance: breaking with the past
  • Modernism and the visual arts
  • History and politics
  • Modernist ideas and performance; critical theories
  • Manifestos and performance
  • Architecture and performance
  • Poetry in action
  • Popular forms
  • Total art versus chance operations
Learning Activities

Some of all of the following methods will be used:

  • Lecture
  • Class discussions
  • Oral presentations
  • Group projects
Means of Assessment

Typical Activities and Weighting (in %)

Assignments: 65%
Final Exam: 25%
Participation: 10%
Total: 100%




Specify # of assignments: 4

Specify nature of participation: class discussions, oral presentations, group projects

Number of writing assignments: 4

Sample Assignments (students are expected to narrow chosen topics in consultation with the instructor)

  • Analyze the events that led to advent Constructivism in the Soviet Union
  • Describe the artistic climate surrounding the Bauhaus movement
  • Discuss the influence of cinema in visual arts in the 1930s
  • Discuss the impact of architecture in music, theatre, and dance.

This is a letter graded course. Passing grade is C.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Think critically about and discuss the historical and social context of the performing arts in the modernist period;
  • Analyze and critique the practice, theory and history of several disciplines of the performing arts;
  • Integrate learning across the performing arts disciplines;
  • Present their work effectively in group settings;
  • Describe major movements in art from the modernist period;
  • Identify key artists and describe their work;
  • Express how performing artists manifested modernist concerns in performance;
  • Communicate the character of various multi-media/interdisciplinary approaches to making performance in the modernist period;
  • Articulate one’s own artistic practice;
  • Conduct research, and use and adapt information to specific projects;
  • Convey their work in oral and written form.
Textbook Materials

Typical text(s) and resource materials (sample reading list):

Required – Wallace, Jeff. Beginning Modernism. Manchester UP. Current Edition.

Required – Huxley, Michael and Noel Witts. The Twentieth-Century Performance Reader. Routledge. Current Edition.

Recommended – The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Current Edition.








Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for BPAC 4000
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Winter 2023