Performative Embodiment as Learning Catalyst: Exploring the Use of Drama/Theatre Practices in an Arts Integration Course for Non-Majors

  • Kathryn DawsonEmail author
Part of the Creativity Theory and Action in Education book series (CTAE, volume 2)


Arguments have been made about the need for more active and creative teaching and learning in higher education (Tepper S, and Lindemann D, Chang Mag High Learn 46:20–23, 2014); yet higher education often uses transmission focused forms of education like lectures and tests. Recent research on embodiment in sociology, philosophy and cognitive sciences suggests conceptual linkages between embodied ways of knowing, lived experiences and creativity. This exploratory, cross-case study uses thematic analysis to consider the use of performative embodiment as a creative teaching and learning approach in an arts integration course for undergraduate students. Through a process-tracing analysis of key course assignments, grading notes, and post-course interviews, I construct and compare three separate “cases” of students’ experience of learning in the course over time. Findings suggest that using performative embodiment in an arts integration course may provide a dialogic, multimodal way for students to increase their sense of belonging in the classroom, to explore the value of the arts in education, to understand the importance of the body in learning, and to understand themselves as learners in education and professional contexts.


Performative embodiment Creativity Creative teaching Arts integration Undergraduate education Dialogic meaning-making 



I acknowledge the intellectual and creative efforts of my faculty colleagues and co-designers of FA 308: Arts Integration for Multidisciplinary Connections at The University of Texas at Austin: Dr. Christina Bain, Dr. Tina Curran, and Prof. Lara Dossett, along with the many talented graduate students who worked with FA 308 over the years. I also acknowledge the efforts of UT graduate student Hillary Vincent who conducted the post-course interviews as part of her master’s thesis work with our FA 308 data set. The labor-intensive rewards of FA 308 continue to be generously supported by the College of Fine Arts Dean, Dr. Doug Dempster, and the Associate Dean of Fine Arts Education, Dr. Hunter March. Without their ongoing belief in arts-based approaches to innovation, FA 308 would not exist.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Texas at Austin, Theatre and Dance DepartmentAustinUSA

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