CUSP Curriculum and Programming
Each year, all of the elements of CUSP – the first-year seminar, the Speaker Series, and the Cultural Outings – are united by a common theme, a broad idea that is the foundation of our year-long inquiry. This year, our theme is Play and Performance.
The theme of “Play and Performance” provides a wide-ranging lens through which we wish to explore the concept of play and performance with an interdisciplinary approach. What does play mean in the context of mathematics, chemistry, psychology, anthropology, philosophy, history, the visual arts, music, or dance? What are toys and how do we build and design them? What are the spaces and opportunities we have for play as adults in a modern/post-modern society? Who is afforded the opportunity to play and why? How is play related to the hierarchies and divisions that exist in our society at large?
In theater, sport, and everyday life, play often takes the form of performance. Here activities are structured with an eye towards exhibition before an audience, and spectatorship becomes another dimension through which social and cognitive development unfolds. By watching theatrical performances viewers rehearse emotional reactions to fictional persons and events; sporting events organize the experience of uncertainty and anticipation through competition, physical virtuosity and rule governed play, while musical and other forms of artistic performance bind performer and spectator together through the realization of unique instances of infinitely repeatable works of art. Scientific experiments, too, are performed and their results mobilized for interpretation before a community of experts.