Department Learning Goals

At Bowdoin College, our approach to the study and practice of Theater and Dance is informed by two key ideas that articulate our goals as an engaged and creative performing arts community.

"The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known...Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important."
Viktor Shklovsky, Art as Technique

"If you know a thing theoretically, but you don’t know it practically, then you don’t really know its whole theory; if you know a thing practically, but don’t know it theoretically, then you don’t really know its whole practice."
~C.E. Montague, A Writer’s Notes on His Trade

Learning Goals

Following Shklovsky's idea that art—most especially the performing arts—enables new perspectives and Montague's observation that to understand anything one must wrestle with both theory and practice, we seek to engage students who not only want to create for the stage, but also to use performance to explore and transform the world around them. The Department of Theater and Dance thus aims to empower and challenge students within an environment that fosters rigorous thinking, imaginative exploration, and the development of performing artists and thinkers who will shape performance in the 21st century. Although they will engage the field of theater, dance, and performance studies in different ways, all students in Theater and Dance will:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of representative history and theory through critical writing, thoughtful debate, and embodied practice;
  2. explore, refine, and apply performance techniques (e.g., acting, choreography, dance, design, directing; etc.) to their development as individual artists;
  3. critically analyze and evaluate representative works from the diversity of global performance;
  4. engage in robust and thoughtful critique of one's own work and that of peers, faculty, and professionals within the context of a larger creative community;
  5. apply learned techniques and theory to the realization of diverse performances.

Honors: The Department of Theater and Dance also supports advanced independent research projects in production and critical study. Select students may build upon demonstrated excellence in their course of study to pursue an honors project in which they apply technique, theory, and critical analysis to the creation of an original, independent work.