Courses of Study 2022-2023 
    Sep 24, 2023  
Courses of Study 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Performing and Media Arts

In the College of Arts and Sciences .

Course Offerings  

Performing and Media Arts majors acquire a broad understanding of performance and media through several rubrics: history, theory and criticism; creative authorship (i.e. directing for stage or screen, choreography, writing for performance and media); design; and embodied performance (acting, dance, movement). Each rubric entails historical and geographical breadth, encompassing theatre/performance, dance/movement, and cinema/media from every continent and across periods, studying and producing artworks from antiquity to the present. All students benefit from the synergies between the study and practice of dance and movement, of live theatre, and of time-based media works, the writing of plays and screenplays, design and technical realization across art forms, and the critical study of canons and traditions of each form. Additionally, majors practice a range of methods and interpretive strategies, including theories and practices of acting and directing; the study of speech and dialects; design theories and technologies; media platforms and production; and humanities- and arts-based forms of inquiry. Majors are encouraged to locate theatre, performance, movement/dance, cinema and media within allied humanities fields and the applied arts by taking courses in such areas as history, art history, psychology, literature, history of architecture, music, and fine arts. The study of foreign languages is strongly encouraged.



S. Haenni, chair; D. Feldshuh, director of undergraduate studies; S. Sheppard, director of graduate studies (on leave fall); J. Aldape Munoz, P. Angelopoulos, C. Balance (on leave spring), J. Bardsley, S. Bernstein, T. Black, A. Bunn (on leave fall), W. Cross, J.E. Gainor (on leave spring), C. Goelzer, K. Jaime, B. Levitt, B. Milles, J. Palmer (on leave fall), D. Pfeffer, N. Salvato (interim director of graduate studies fall), J. Simms, B. Suber, S. Warner

Performing and Media Arts Major

What is Performing and Media Arts?

Performing and Media Arts is the department where it is possible to creatively explore and study theatre, film and dance individually or to put these disciplines together in new ways. For example, students can combine creative and critical work in acting and film, cinema and media, theatre and television, dance and light, film and sound. The major is both flexible and rigorous, giving students opportunities to put together their own course of study. In consultation with their faculty advisor, they also plan a departmental sequence in an area of their interest. Students are encouraged to do both creative work and critical studies.

Prospective majors must consult the director of undergraduate studies,

To be admitted to the major, students must have completed one course in the department (or equivalent for transfer students), excluding first-year writing seminars and laboratory classes, and received a grade of B or above. This course will count toward the requirements for the major.

Note: In addition to the major requirements outlined below, all students must meet the college graduation requirements ​.

To complete the major, students must take:

  1. a 2-semester sequence of courses in the history of live performance (PMA 3750 - Global Stages I -PMA 3751 - Global Stages II ), the history of media (PMA 3550 - Global Cinema I -PMA 3551 - Global Cinema II ), or the history of movement-based practices ( PMA 3226 - [Global Dance I] , PMA 3227 - Global Dance II ). In close consultation with their departmental advisers, students may receive permission and approval to make a 2-semester sequence across these three areas of historical investigation.
  2. Six courses, of three or four credits each, including three courses in a departmental sequence, and at least one course in each of the rubrics not covered in the departmental sequence.
  3. PMA 4000 - Senior Studio  
  4. One two-credit production laboratory course of either PMA 1410  or PMA 1610 . Production labs cannot be used to fulfill requirements (2) or (5).
  5. one elective course of at least 3 credits

Students must pass all courses used to fulfill the performing and media arts major with a letter grade of at least a B-. No S-U grades accepted unless there is no letter grade option.

To summarize, a total of 10 performing and media arts (PMA) courses and 1 laboratory course are required to complete the major, for a minimum of 35 credits.


History/Theory/Criticism: In these courses, participants develop the critical skills integral to studying global histories of cinema, dance, dramatic literature, expressive behavior, theatre, and related forms of live and mediated performance. While attending to these histories and engaging in aesthetic reflection, participants also learn about various theorizations of performance and media and about recent methodological approaches to the study of performance and media.

Creative Authorship: In these courses, participants develop the creative and technical skills needed to produce time-based artwork. Areas of exploration include directing for stage and screen, choreography for stage and screen, cinematography in film and digital video, sound production, gallery installation work, and dramatic writing for stage, screen, and related media. Courses emphasize creative authorship as a powerful mode of individual expression and as a foundation for creative collaboration.

Design: In these courses, participants develop the creative and technical skills needed for the elegant, expressive, and imaginative transformation of ideas into a particular visual/aural medium, connecting image to concept, idea to form, sensation to intellect. Participants learn the ways in which design provides a means of organizing spatial, visual, and auditory information into compositions that are artistically and conceptually rigorous.

Embodied Performance: In these courses, predominantly acting, voice & speech, and dance technique courses, students develop and improve on established methodologies in techniques for stage and screen performance. Courses include movement and vocalization techniques in both narrative and abstract contexts.

Rubrics Key: Course rubrics will be identified as follows: History/Theory/Criticism = (HTC), Creative Authorship = (AU), Design = (DE), and Embodied Performance = (EP). Additionally, Production Laboratory courses will be designated with (PL).


A sequence must reflect depth by including a two course progression from the 3000-level to the 4000-level.  The third course adds depth and breadth to the chosen focus.
In History/Theory/Criticism: cinema/media studies, performance/theatre studies
In Creative Authorship: dance composition, directing, film/media production
In Design: costume, lighting, scenery, sound
In Embodied Performance: acting, dance technique

Senior Studio

All senior majors will synthesize four years of study in a collaborative intellectual and artistic project with the faculty. In this course, students will conceive and produce works for presentation to the public in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, as well as a supporting historical/theoretical/critical matrix, integrating the major’s four rubrics. As a crucible for artistic and intellectual collaboration, the senior studio may emphasize an area of study, a period, a text, or a theme.


Individual student projects are distinct from the Senior Studio. Students who have maintained a GPA of 3.5 in their major courses, and an average of 3.0 in all courses, may elect to work for honors during their senior year. They must consult with their advisor in the spring of their junior year about the honors program. Honors projects are possible across the spectrum of creative and analytical work. Projects in performance, film/media production, and design also require a written analytical component related to the creative work.

Performing and Media Arts Minors

The Department of Performing and Media Arts offers four minors. The minors are open to all students in the university, including those outside the College of Arts and Sciences. To declare a minor, you will need to contact

Performing and Media Arts Minor:

The Performing and Media Arts Minor encourages students to do focused yet flexible coursework in the department’s inter-disciplines. This coursework enables students to draw connections between live and mediated forms of performance and production, as well as between studies and practices of these forms. Students pursuing the PMA minor work closely in consultation with faculty advisors to ensure that their work in the department is completed in courses that integrate performance and media and demonstrate the cross-pollinations between them.


One of six global studies courses: PMA 3550 - Global Cinema I  , PMA 3551 - Global Cinema II , PMA 3750 - Global Stages I , PMA 3751 - Global Stages II , PMA 3226 - [Global Dance I] , or PMA 3227 - Global Dance II  

  • One course in the area designated by the Design rubric
  • One course in the area designated by the Creative Authorship rubric
  • One course in the area designated by the Embodied Performance rubric
  •  One additional course in any of the rubrics
  • One two-credit Production Laboratory course of either PMA 1410  or PMA 1610 .


Courses in which a student receives a grade below a C cannot be used to fulfill the requirements for the Performing and Media Arts Minor. All credit toward the minor must be from PMA courses taken at Cornell or from PMA courses taken with Cornell-approved programs.

Dance Minor:

The Dance Minor is designed to be flexible yet ensure that students grapple with the fundamental practices of doing, making, and thinking dance. Included in the curriculum are courses that explore choreographing dance and studying dance as a historical and cultural behavior, as well as more familiar dance technique courses.



Courses in which a student receives a grade below a C cannot be used to fulfill the requirements for the Dance Minor. All credit toward the minor must be from PMA courses taken at Cornell or from PMA courses taken with Cornell-approved programs.

Film Minor:

The Film Minor provides students with a fundamental understanding of the formal, industrial, aesthetic, political, spiritual, and rhetorical aspects of cinema and media from the 19th century to the present. Through elective courses in cinema and media, students may focus on national cinemas, genres or modes (narrative cinema, for example, or personal film), or critical issues (such as melodrama, or media theory). Students may, in addition, pursue some work in film and digital production, particularly through courses in animation.



Courses in which a student receives a grade below a C cannot be used to fulfill the requirements for the Film Minor. All credit toward the minor must be from PMA courses taken at Cornell or from PMA courses taken with Cornell-approved programs.

Theatre Minor:

The Theatre Minor allows students to focus in areas that interest them within the discipline of live performance: acting and directing for stage production; theatre history, theory, and criticism; and theatre design and technologies.



Courses in which a student receives a grade below a C cannot be used to fulfill the requirements for the Theatre Minor. All credit toward the minor must be from PMA courses taken at Cornell or from PMA courses taken with Cornell-approved programs.

Media Studies Minor:

Media are the technological means through which societies are reflected, tested, challenged, and transformed. The Media Studies minor presents undergraduates with the opportunity for interdisciplinary engagement with diverse modes of communication, from the hieroglyph to the algorithm, encompassing the myriad digital, textual, visual, aural, tactile technologies, forms, and practices by which information circulates amongst a now digitally-networked global population. This undergraduate minor is open to students enrolled in any college at Cornell.  

First-Year Writing Seminars:

Consult the John S. Knight Institute website for times, instructors, and descriptions.