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Curricular Connections, Winter Term 2011

Faculty from departments including Art and Art History, Asian Languages, and Theater and Dance, offered courses to take advantage of the art exhibition, and to provide context for the visual objects in the exhibition. VIZ (Visualizing the Liberal Arts) supported the rich connections between art forms and cultures embodied in the myriad programs and courses connected with Visualizing Japanese Theater.

Art History

Kathleen Ryor, Art History, taught the seminar, Japanese Theater: Visualizing Narrative (ARTH 320), to position Japanese prints and other visual artifacts (including video documentaries of theatrical productions) within the context of narrative theory and practice.

Asian Languages and Literature

Katie Sparling, Asian Languages, offered Classic Japanese Fiction in Translation: Genji (JPN 236), engaging some classic texts from Kabuki and Noh. The Tale of Genji, written around the year 1000 at the glorious height of traditional Japanese Court culture, has been a major inspiration for artists and writers ever since. Stories and motifs from Genji find their way into all forms of Japanese theater, traditional and modern, especially the Noh drama. Students read some Genji plays along with the novel, considering how familiar characters are reborn again and again in different guises in ever-changing contexts.

Theater & Dance

Judith Howard, Theater and Dance, taught Cultures of Dance: Tradition, Transgression and Trans-Nationalism in Japanese Dance Cultures (DANC 115), with emphasis on Kabuki, Noh and Butoh, as well as contemporary Japanese Dance Club Culture. Sears Eldredge, formerly of the Macalester College Dramatic Arts and Dance Department and an expert on masks in performance, made a guest appearance.

In addition, the Theater and Dance Department and Professor Howard sponsored Kats D. Fukasawa, a Subbody Butoh method dancer, as guest artist for Winter Dance. Students enrolled in DANC 205 learned to connect to the “Subbody” or subconscious body, to create movements free from ego and daily concerns. The class culminated in a site-specific performance on campus.

Ruth Weiner, Professor in the department of Theater and Dance at Carleton, was at the center of the Carleton Players production (THEA 190), The Last Firefly, which offered students opportunities to work with acclaimed playwright Naomi Iizumi, major theater director Sean Graney, and David Furumoto, a Kabuki acting specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mary Ann Kelling taught Topics in Theater: Costume Design (THEA 239), and her students developed a make-up style for the actors in The Last Firefly that is derived from Kabuki.