This course is an attempt to trace the spectralization of Hong Kong’s now destroyed and largely forgotten colonial playhouses in present-day Hong Kong. Several of the city’s playhouses were converted at the end of the twentieth century into soaring, glittering, futuristic malls – the temples of neoliberal globalism. What however were Hong Kong’s now destroyed theatres like during their heyday? Who and what was performed there? What impact did these performances have on the local population? How have these performances disappeared or been displaced in the urban landscape?
Through primary source research in digitized newspaper archives, oral history work, and readings of a few key critical texts, students will chart how performative practices are displaced, overlaid or erased in geographic spaces across time. Students will thus ‘crowd-source’ a history of Hong Kong performance by developing narratives on specific colonial theatres, their long-term influence and the reasons behind their disappearance.
As this is a senior colloquium, students will be expected to demonstrate how they have learned to apply critical literature to primary source material. They will therefore conduct their own archival research, analyze the material that they have found, articulate their research findings in a creative yet critical way and participate in class discussions. ‘Participation’ will be assessed on the basis of three short ‘archival workshops’. Final projects can take many forms (originality is encouraged): a conventional essay, a guided tour, a class presentation, a podcast, an annotated map. Final projects may be shared with the wider public online.
The class will meet for two hours every week and will follow a seminar format based on student discussion. Discussions will be on archival findings, the application of critical theory to primary sources and the development of research questions. There will be no formal lectures.
Class Participation: 40 percent
Final Project: 60 percent