Underworld Archives: Queer Ephemera, Performance, and Time
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students
Department: Humanities
Course Number: NCST 3500
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Cultural Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
Today, the word “archive” seems to crop up everywhere, and we have been witness to a wide range of artists and thinkers engaging conceptions of the archive in varied and fruitful ways. This work has proven particularly useful in attending not only to histories that are known, but also in addressing those histories and experiences that have been lost or overlooked, events, people and things excluded from canonical archives. As a practice, archiving accounts for some of the richest questions we might pose in relation to ephemeral practices from performance art to performances of everyday life. This course thinks through the structure and function of the archive as a concept and considers how archives and the archival might be rethought in order to better attend to a range of ephemeral or fleeting sites of study. Together we will look at a wide range of examples from live performances to public protests, from marginalized histories to the documentation of marginal desires, sexualities and selves. With a focus on queer and feminist perspectives, we'll also look at concrete examples of how the "archive" is handled differently in relation concrete examples through New York City. Our goal will be to think the concept of the archive anew and develop ways of producing and sharing archives of our choosing. Towards this end, students will conduct a semester long research project on a site within New York City and execute a final archival project. Sites of interest may include nightclubs, experimental theater, visual artist archives, and community activist organizations. This course counts toward the Gender Studies minor.
Course Open to: Degree Students