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Reading as Performance: Reimagining the Community of Knowledge


Admission requirements



How do our practices of reading, alone and together, shape the boundaries of our political communities? How might we reimagine the ways we read theoretical texts? This course will consider the ways in which knowledge is acquired, transmitted and distributed, through the encounter with three major theorists: Michel Foucault, Gayatry Chakravorty Spivak, and Edward Said. We will approach their work using both traditional hermeneutic techniques and innovative practices drawn from the world of performance art. In particular, the course will emphasize the embodied and performative aspects of reading and knowledge “production” to challenge basic concepts of representation, membership and “common knowledge.” We will use performative practice (body, movement, voice and more) to find new ways to encounter texts, reflecting on our standpoint as readers, art-students and makers, and exposing our vulnerability in understanding/not understanding. Through new ways of reading, we will enter into an intimate dialogue with the texts and with each other.

“Reading as Performance” is structured as a workshop for exploring modes of coming together. We will use our meetings to create a shared time and space for reading and discussing, in exercises that examine non-hierarchical, democratic forms of scholarly work. Furthermore, we will constantly engage with performance-art practices and attempt to reflect on the discussed concepts through performative, participatory, playful, expressions.

Each of the courses’ major texts helps identify a unique reading practice around a major theoretic theme. Using Foucault’s “Orders of Discourse,” we will explore the political and practical meaning of discourse as embedded in institutions and founded on rehearsal and repetition. We will read parts from “Orientalism” by Edward Said to examine the meaning of power-relations in creating a dominant political narrative. Lastly, Gayatry Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak” will set up our discussion on the ethics of representation, cultural appropriation, subject-formation and hegemonic attitudes towards the ‘Other’, using small-group reading exercises to face our own subject-position. Our exercises will explore the prolific, counter hegemonic power of performative reading and playful interpretation.

For whom:

  • You are an art or University student interested in postcolonial theories and writings on representation

  • You are a student that is interested in weaving theoretical concepts into your artistic work

  • You are a student that is curious about performance-based practices

  • You are a student that is looking for other ways of learning and sharing knowledge

  • You are a student who wants to share ideas with others, willing to explore participatory methods and studio work

  • You are a student that is interested in practice based-research / artistic-research, and enjoys processes, at times, even more than results

Course objectives

Students will acquire innovative methods for attending academic texts and learn how to weave theoretical thought into their practice. Furthermore, they will get acquainted with key concepts in political thinking and the contemporary art-wold and be able to reflect on these in connection to their own artistic work.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

The course will include:

  • Reading assignments

  • Discussions and in-class conversations

  • Performative exercises (physical work, movement, vocal expression and more)

  • Peer feedback sessions

  • Guest lecturer

Assessment method

The expected outcomes will be formulated in two forms – a final practical presentation (multidisciplinary, performance, exhibition) and a written text of 350-500 words, where student reflect upon their practice in relation to the theoretical framework established in the course.


  • Showing engagement in sessions, discussions, group work and assignment. Specifically, showing respect and interest for the opinions of others, being attentive and curious.

  • Showing original thinking, motivation for exploration and broadening known personal borders of discipline and thought.

  • Demonstrating a critical and inquiring attitude toward the strategies, techniques and theories that are offered in this course; reflecting on ones own work and evaluate its effectiveness and quality.

  • Being able to draw insights from discussions, on the level of personal work and as feedback to the works of others; being able to acquire new knowledge, skills and insights on a theoretical and practical level.

  • Adequate reading preparation

  • 80% attendance rate in class



Inspection and feedback

Reading list

Chakravorty Spivak, Gayatry (1985). “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory, a Reader. Ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman. New York: Routledge. 66-111.
Foucault, Michel (1971). “Orders of discourse.” Social Science Information Vol. 10(2): 7-30.
Minh-Ha, Trinh T. (1991). When the Moon Waxes Red: Representation, Gender, and Cultural Politics. New York: Routledge.
Said, Edward (1984). “Permission to Narrate.” Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 13(3): 27-48.
Said, Edward (1978). Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books
Thompson, Tonika Sealy Stefano Harney (2018). “Ground Provisions.” Afterall Vol. 45: 120-125


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


Liza Swaving

Rogier Schneemann


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