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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PECI5705M The Costumed Body: Performance, Performativity and Politics

30 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr Jacki Willson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications


Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The Costumed Body will explore the performative and political qualities of costume. Firstly, the module will focus on the body in the costume. How do we experience the idea of costume? This mode of thinking will include both the materiality of the costume – its fabric, texture and shape – and the embodied interaction with the costume – its movement, weight, smell and sensuality. Secondly the module will focus on the triangulation between the body, the costume and the spectator. What is the relationship between spectatorship and the costumed body? This mode of thinking will focus on the politics of looking and being-looked-at in relation to both the dressed and undressed body. This part of the module will take an intersectional approach to spectatorship, thinking about the theatrical costumed body and notions of the ‘Other’. The third mode of thinking will focus on the transformative qualities of the costume body within broader social and political space. How does costume operate within an expanded field? This mode of thinking will encompass subcultural dressing up and role play, for instance, Cosplay; gender and sexual identity, for instance, drag and burlesque; as well as the spectacle of the costumed body in protest, both on the street and via digital platforms.


The module content will be framed around three modes of thinking about costume: its connection to the body, it relationship to the spectator and its transformative abilities vis-à-vis social and political space.
The objectives of this module are to:
• Acquire a methodological framework for researching an expanded notion of the costumed body as a performative and political performance.
• Understand three modes for thinking about the costumed body in performance.
• Become cognisant of discipline specific methods for researching the costumed body (through case study, comparative analysis and conceptual approaches).

Learning outcomes
1. To understand and communicate the way in which costume performs – on, through and beyond the body.
2. To expand the notions of theatrical costume into the everyday and the political by way of specific examples.
3. To engage with a body of theoretical work from the disciplines of theatre and film, drawing out the relevant concerns for a wider notion of costume.
4. To undertake an individual study of costumed body situating this within a given theoretical and conceptual framework.


The module content will be framed around three modes of thinking about costume: its connection to the body, its relationship to the spectator and it social and political transformative abilities. It will draw on costume scholarship in theatre and film studies and examine how use of costume manifests itself in a range of contexts beyond the theatre. Topics covered are likely to include:
Design and signification of theatrical costume
Materiality of costume
The body in costume
Gender and sexual identity through costume
Spectatorship and costume
Costume as belonging (tribes and subcultures)
Costume as protest
Costume as agential and transformational

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning23.006.00
Independent online learning hours100.00
Private study hours156.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Private Study and Independent Learning - Detail private study and independent learning outside formal classes as a guide to students about what is expected from them for the module
Preparation for lectures and seminars and learning blog 90hrs
Preparation for Group learning 1 (workshop ‘show and tell’) and Group learning 2 (mini pitch) 30 hrs
Preparation for assignment 136 hrs

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1. Learning blog on Minerva – each student inputs to group blog - comments/images/information over 11 weeks with regular prompts/updates/response from tutors.
2. Group learning 1 - Workshop (week 4) – ‘show and tell’ – students work in groups analyse their own examples of costume with oral feedback from tutor and peers.
3. Group learning 2 - Mini-pitch (week 8) – essay proposal presentations with oral feedback from tutor and peers
4. Progress also monitored by student engagement in seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000-5,000 word illustrated essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:43:36


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